Saturday, August 25, 2012
Don't Say That...
Scripture: Jeremiah 38:14 (The Message)
"Later, King Zedakiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and had him brought to the third entrance of the temple of God. The king said to Jeremiah, 'I'm going to ask you something. Don't hold anything back from me.' Jeremiah said, 'If I told you the whole truth, you'd kill me. And no matter what I said, you wouldn't pay any attention anyhow.'"
Jerusalem is about to fall. The people are about to be sent into exile into Babylon. King Zedakiah is afraid, yet Jeremiah tells him what is going to happen anyhow.
I have learned over the years that the role of pastor is really three roles in one. That was reinforced for me this week. I am a pastor, which means that I have a responsibility to care for the souls in my charge. I am a priest, which means that I have vowed to administer the sacraments to whosoever would come. But, and this is the part that causes me the occasional sleepless night...I am also a prophet. Not a prophet, like the prophets of old. I can't see into the future or deliver words like Jeremiah did to Zedakiah with a knowledge that what I speak will come true. Instead, a prophet in the sense that sometimes the words I am called to speak are tough to hear, but they need to be spoken anyhow.
I have also learned that those words, even though they be spoken in love and for the good of the kingdom, not out of malice or ill will, may not be well received and the end result is that some may choose to walk away instead of accept them.
I can respect the king in today's reading for giving Jeremiah his ear, even though the words that Jeremiah brought were not what he wanted to hear. That happens more than we realize. At the end of the day, I'd rather know that I had been true to my calling than to think I had allowed my need to be liked interfere with the task God has given me.
God of the tough days and sleepless nights, grant those whom you have called to shepherd your flocks the strength to follow where you lead, to hear when you speak, to correct in love, to sacrifice when sacrifice is required and to do all this not for the praise of man, but to build your kingdom. Amen.