I was reading the lectionary texts for this week and there is this lovely moment in the Jeremiah text which is the calling of Jeremiah to be a prophet of the Lord, where the scripture tells us, “Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, ‘Now I have put my words in your mouth.” And it struck me.
It struck me because this has happened to me, but also because it is an intimate reminder that this calling to ministry, this calling to Christianity, this calling to humanity, does not leave us alone in the wilderness, but rather calls us to a purpose and generously gives us the tools and resources we need for the task.
Now I want to be careful here that I do not proclaim a theology of idolatry, which leads to a simple application of God’s blessing to be one that is affected by the whim of our sin and our faithfulness. I do not believe that God blesses us more because we performed good acts, or that God punishes us because we have precariously been unfaithful. I do believe that God promises to equip the faithful for the ministry to which we have been called. And I believe intentional effort (maybe because of relativity as much as anything else) is rewarded with the benefits of an equal and opposite reaction. I do believe that God does not abandon those whom God calls, even though there are times it may feel like it. God is faithful, so how will we respond? How will we share in the blessings of God’s bounty?
Also in this passage God speaks a blessing of Hope, Love, Joy or how ever you might define the opposite of fear, when God says, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.’ ” God says, “Do Not Be Afraid.” And then God says, “I am with you.” Comfort…sometimes that’s the opposite of fear. Jeremiah hesitates because he is afraid, and God calms his fear and promises to be with him, and then literally places the words in the prophet’s mouth.
I have had God’s word placed in my mouth before. I’ve heard others tell of being in the middle of a situation where beautiful, wonderful words came streaming out of them to comfort a friend, to bring understanding to a question or doubt, to pray so other humans could hear, and the only explanation was, God placed those words there. I have been blessed by this and by the stories I have heard of similar experiences, and today I was blessed to hear this story of Jeremiah, who was prepared before he was born, to be a prophet of the Lord.
Thank you, Holy, for your blessing of words when I have none; for your blessing of presence when I feel alone; for your blessing of calling to do ministry I am not worthy to call my own; for your blessing to serve a church who hears your call and fearfully, but bravely in the comfort of your promise, boldly serves at your call. I am blessed beyond words! May my actions be generous as I share blessing with others. Amen.