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Father’s Day game talk

by davesandel on June 21st, 2020

Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time, June 21, 2020 (Father’s Day)

            (today’s lectionary)

Father’s Day game talk

Happy day, father of Jeremiah! Happy day, father of Saul/Paul!

Celebrate. Dance to the music.

Smoke the fattened calf and carve, eat, drink, party!

Not exactly.

Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men. Death reigned from Adam.

Paul might be looking back at his own dad, the last domino of generations before his own, all caught by what Augustine would later call “original sin.”

When we visited Danville Correctional Center twenty-five years ago with UIUC students on Sunday nights, the guys loved Mother’s Day but failed almost to notice Father’s Day. Often they did not even know their dads.

I knew mine. He dressed up a little, slacks and a cotton sports shirt changed from dairy milking clothes to church clothes to Sunday afternoon clothes. Sometimes we went to Allerton Park for a picnic. He liked picnics much more than Mom did. But this was Father’s Day, right?

Jeremiah’s dad was never a big fan. Jeremiah the young man, driven by God to go his own way almost as if he were being attacked and assailed, never felt the family’s love. God was, however, strong within him. Jeremiah’s strength often failed him, but God’s never did.

The Lord is with me

Like a mighty champion

Still Jeremiah was psychologically a sick boy. He heard God, but he could not really hear himself. He was NOT OK. However much he needed to, he did not know the love of his parents.

Jeremiah never found his way to the rarified heights that deacon Stephen seemed to occupy with ease. Stephen prayed for the men and women killing him in cold blood, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

But Jeremiah couldn’t say anything like that. He asked God, “Let me witness the vengeance you take upon them.”

Jeremiah knew his accusers well, and described them to God.

They will stumble and fail

They will be brought to complete shame

And lasting, unforgettable confusion.

Of course, Freud’s concept of projection didn’t begin with Freud. It has always been a part of our “original” sin-nature. Jeremiah so often saw himself as one who stumbled and fell, brought to complete shame in lasting, unforgettable confusion.

Once Jeremiah said to his Father, his God, his Savior, “Lord, you seduced me. And I was seduced.”

Bitter herbs in his mouth that day.

Jeremiah has been gone a long time now, and I guess it’s ok to sing about him. Hank Williams said his song was about an Indian, but I think maybe …

Jeremiah, he never got a kiss

Jeremiah, he don’t know what he missed

Is it any wonder that his face his red

Jeremiah, that poor old wooden head!

Though it was probably written several centuries earlier, Psalm 69 might have been written by Jeremiah. Certainly it was written FOR him.

Shame covers me, as

I have been outcast by my brothers

Am a stranger to my mother’s children

Because zeal for your house consumes me

So I pray always only to you

For the time of your great favor, Lord

Not just me but all the poor

All those in bondage

You do Not spurn us and we praise you

All of us we praise you

In the heavens and the earth

All the seas

Whatever moves that you have made

Our hearts revive in your Great Kindness

Jeremiah “heard the whispering, the hisses of his accusers” on every side. Jesus too, of course. And his disciples. They all heard it, and often they were afraid.

But Jesus had a very different childhood than Jeremiah, and it shows. His Father is very near. He does not keep secrets, and he is not afraid.

Do not be afraid of them.

Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed

No secret that will not be known.

Look forward to what will be, and do not be afraid here and now.

Repeat what I say to you in the bright public light, proclaim it from the housetops.

Bullies will never kill the soul, not mine, not yours (and not Jeremiah’s).

God’s covering is like an invisibility cloak. No one comes between me and God. God’s promise, his approbation, the simple words he says to me, “You are my son, I am well pleased.” And later, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That is the praise worth living for, and dying for too, for that matter.

What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? Well, God cares about that canary more than you think, and he numbers every hair on your head … you’re worth more than a million canaries.

O death, where is thy sting!

Jesus said these things among many others before sending his disciples out on their own. Jesus’ game talk was as good as it gets. The Gipper, Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, Jesus … Wow, I’ll take the Jesus Talk, and be on His Team.

Happy Father’s Day, Jesus!

(Romans 5, Jeremiah 20, Psalm 69, Matthew 10)


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