As I was watching the news about the human-made greed decisions that lead to the current water disaster in Flint, Michigan, I also took note of how it seems one person’s actions inspired others to act; now many are rallying to help in an American city where clean drinkable water is in such scarcity. Considering just the size of that problem so far away from Birmingham, it’s easy to see why we also might be tempted to downplay the worth of any small contribution we might be able to make to so many incredible needs right here among us, limited as we are.
That is exactly what we encounter in the Old Testament text for this Sunday. Jeremiah, in his excuses, downplayed the worth of any contribution he could make to the incredible needs of God’s people, especially in him being a prophet. His excuses: “I don’t know how to preach like a prophet, I don’t talk well and I’m still wet behind the ears.” God would have none of it! Turns out that none of the human limits we so often run up against are beyond the power of God to overcome. In fact, it’s those very same limits that create the opportunity for God’s glory to be seen through us.
A preacher you may have heard of, named Paul, put it this way, “We have this treasure (God’s miracle presence) in clay jars, (in these frail, imperfect, human bodies) so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” The point is simple and clear. It is God who has called us to Covenant, and it is God’s promise that God will be with us and equip each of us for the purpose to which God calls us, just as God did for Jeremiah.
It isn’t just for church things either, because unlike us, God isn’t limited to the things we need at church. God is out in the community also. Jeremiah’s call sent him out into the world. While Covenant is the place we come to discover the purpose God has for us, that purpose takes us beyond what we do at Covenant and out into our communities. We all have our parts to play at Covenant and in the community.
So what are your excuses? We all seem to have them. They tend to keep us from doing what we can in the face of huge challenges like the Flint water disaster; discounting and minimizing the difference our little ability can make in the face of such great need. However, maybe getting rid of our excuses and doing what we can do might create the miracle for those with more abilities and resources stepping up to the plate to do what they can do as we are seeing in Flint.
Jeremiah’s call was to pluck up and pull down, to destroy and overthrow. God is still speaking! In order to hear and follow God’s purpose for us, we too must pluck up and pull down, destroy and overthrow all the excuses that keep us from building and planting and being who it is God has called us to be.
So join us in worship this Sunday morning at Covenant. I will be looking a little closer at some of “Our Excuses and God’s Promises.” The scripture texts for this sermon is Jeremiah 1:4-10 and Luke 4:29-32.