The Preacher

Jeremiah 2:4-13 – The 15th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, August 28, 2016

“. . . the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, going after what has no value.” (Jeremiah 2:8)

pulpitThe preacher lowered his head. The congregation probably assumed he was praying, but he was pondering his scuffed shoes. The left one had a broken shoelace. He didn’t have time to find the stash of used and new laces his wife kept in the bedroom. Instead he’d rethreaded the frayed lace and cinched it as tightly as he could. And then the preacher hurried to the car, late again.

Every day felt frayed.

The thirty-something woman who’d just read the passage from Jeremiah at the lectern returned to her front pew seat. She smoothed her red plaid skirt.

The preacher had watched the congregation when she spoke the verses that had unsettled him as he worried over his sermon:

The priests didn’t ask,
“Where’s the Lord?”
Those responsible for the Instruction didn’t know me;
the leaders rebelled against me;
the prophets spoke in the name of Baal,
going after what has no value.

No one in the pews had stirred at the harsh judgment. No one sat straighter. No one appeared guiltier or humbled. Had the words become merely numbing, numbered sentences from a cranky old prophet kept in a book most claimed to revere but mostly ignored?

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