• Steven Marsh

Participating in God’s Story-God is Three Persons: a Reflection on Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15, Psa

This blog is the third in a series, “Participating in God’s Story.” Yes, God has written a story and invites everyone to say “YES! I’m all in!” This, “YES! I’m all in!”, is the beginning of the stewardship of one’s life. God is inviting you to manage your life (its gifts and resources) for the advancement of God’s Reign. We say “YES! I’m all in!” by acknowledging Jesus as Messiah. Worshipping, learning, connecting, serving, and giving become the life blood of our stewardship. We are so loved by the one who knows us the best and loves us the most. God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the foundation, architect, and builder of this story of redemption, healing, and hope.

It is hope, the anticipation that God will fulfill God’s promises in your life and our lives, that gives us confidence to keep going with Jesus. Robert Seiple, former president of World Vision writes, “Hope is always made more real when we see tangible action today that points with credibility to the possibility of a better tomorrow.”[1] Jeremiah faced despair, agony, and doubt head on. Hope gave Jeremiah the courage to focus on redemption and healing in order to see the better tomorrow.

The better tomorrow began with Jeremiah’s visit to the Potter’s house. It was there that he was told by God of the coming judgment. The potter was working at the wheel. The piece of pottery he was making “was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.” Our community of faith does not exist for itself. We are entrusted with the promise of how humanity has been reconciled to God and in turn how one can experience that reconciliation. We are a community that embraces the wandering, wondering and waywardness of the human story as part of the journey home to our God.[2] As the potter, God is involved in your life, my life, and our congregation’s life.

The life and preaching of Jeremiah falls within the context of 627-587 B.C.E. Jeremiah was God’s voice calling the people back home. He called on the people to turn from their evil ways and do good. But they remained stubborn, pursuing other gods and loyalties.[3] Jeremiah, who is speaking for the Lord, indicts and judges the people for choosing what is worthless; not profitable. The people’s sin had resulted in Israel forfeiting its land, kingship, and unity. God’s judgment is defined in the context of “wind,” a metaphor of God’s instrument of destruction. Peter Craigie writes, “It is the sirocco…the hot dry wind… usually coming from the desert regions lying to the east and south of the promised land…The wind…blows…strongly…; it is… dry, sucking moisture from the soil…Like the sirocco, the wind of judgment would blow in quickly, irresistible in its power…oppressive in its effect.[4]

The core of Jeremiah chapter 32 is the first-person report of Jeremiah’s redemption purchase of land; his cousin’s field. For the people, land meant the difference between life and death. The redemption purchase of the land invites the listener then and us now “to a life that values human agency amid God’s mission.”[5] The Babylonians had encircled the city. Jeremiah’s purchase of the land was public, not private. The deed was placed in a piece of pottery. The land transaction signaled that the Jews would return to Jerusalem. Judgment happened in that the Temple was destroyed and the people were deported into the lands of the Babylonian Empire. But, the people would return. There would be redemption. There would be a better tomorrow.

The texts speak to a better tomorrow. Psalm 91 reminds us of our security in and protection by our faithful God;[6] 1 Timothy that being active and courageous in our choices for remembering, living, and telling the way of Jesus is imperative;[7] and Luke 16 that reversals in well-being do occur and we are to be relentless in our commitment to faithful stewardship.[8]

Being an inclusive, welcoming and inviting congregation to all people is essential for Geneva’s better tomorrow. Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California is the congregation I serve with great joy and anticipation for what God is doing. Our church location, site and buildings mean something. They are God’s and we have been placed here, since 1965, to reach the Saddleback Valley and world with the love of Jesus. Increasing our giving to the operating budget and developing a master plan for our campus are imperative for our better tomorrow.

We will continue to organize and mobilize ourselves around the five expectations for members and regular attenders of our faith community: Worshipping – Are you worshipping regularly? Learning – How are you maturing your faith? Connecting – Are you in community with others? Serving – What’s the ONE THING you can do to expand God’s Reign? And, Giving – Are you participating financially on a regular basis? These five expectations are key to faithful stewardship of one’s life.

Polytheism asserts beliefs in many gods. Pantheism is the theological construct that all is divine. And Atheism dictates that God does not exist. Trinitarian theism affirms that one God exits in three persons: Father (Creator), Son (Redeemer), and Holy Spirit (Sustainer). Michael Horton in his book Core Christianity writes,

In short, the doctrine of the Trinity is not a secondary matter. Apart from this doctrine, our redeeming Mediator could not actually save us because he would not be God. And the indwelling Spirit could not give us life and indwell us as God’s own resurrection-guaranteeing presence. Apart from the Trinity, the Son and the Spirit would be either different names for the same person or mere creatures, however exalted. Our salvation hangs in the balance of whether God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[9]

Learning is the second of five expectations Geneva has of its members and regular attenders. It is integral for our church identity of “Loving God. Loving Others.” Learning – How are you maturing your faith?  What? – We are to be life-long learners. 2 Timothy 3:16 states that the Bible is useful for teaching, correction, and training in doing the right things. Discipleship matters. Where? – We are to engage the process of learning through children, youth, family, and adult education opportunities; small groups, too. Why? – We want to live as informed followers of Jesus who make a difference through our remembering, telling, and living the way of Jesus in words and deeds.

Participating in God’s story necessitates learning. Learning about the One who knows us the best and loves us the most is integral in experiencing the hope of our salvation (redemption); that better tomorrow. That is good news.

[1]Bob Seiple, Princeton Seminary Bulletin (volume xxvii, number 2, 2006), 119-120.

[2]Gleaned from Dwight M. Lundgren in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 4 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 103.

[3]Idea adapted from Peter C. Craigie, Page H. Kelley and Joel F. Drinkard, Jr., Word Biblical Commentary, volume 26, Jeremiah 1-25 (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, 1991), 245-246.

[4]Ibid., 76-77.

[5]Stephen Breck Reid in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 4, 98.

[6]Concept gleaned from Donald K. McKim in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 4, 104.

[7]Concept gleaned from Stephanie Mar Smith in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 4, 110.

[8]Concept gleaned from Scott Bader-Sayer in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 4, 116.

[9]Michael Horton, Core Christianity (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2016), 41-42.

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