Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sermon from Jan 4, 2015; Jeremiah 31:7-14

Rev. George Miller
January 4, 2015
Jeremiah 31:7-14

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

Today’s reading is taken from the prophet Jeremiah, giving words of inspiration to his people during a time of need.

They have come to a difficult moment in history in which all has seemed lost forever. A time of confusion and sadness, dashed hope and lost dreams.

Into their dark days, the prophet shares a word, a word meant to bring great light into their lives. A word that God is about to do something new and exciting, something that will save and bless them.

They may have come from a place of sorrow, but the Lord is about to bring them into a time of gladness.

A time in which their weeping will be consoled. A time in which they will sing and be radiant.

Where they have come from will soon change into where they are going: along straight paths by brooks of cool water in which they will have grain and wine and oil, watered gardens and flocks that are full.

The women will dance; the men will be merry. Comfort will be given and the people will be satisfied because they will once again have “enough.”

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

Although the word “feet” is never mentioned in this particular reading, I can’t help but to see the feet of God’s people.

The feet of those walking in paths besides brooks of water. The feet of the flock as they graze in the field. The feet of the women dancing with glee and glory.

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

That has been the theme since Dec 21 when we heard Mary’s song of praise and on Dec 24 when we made our way to the manger.

Today we liturgically end the Christmas season as we commemorate Epiphany, the day in which the wise men visited the baby Jesus and bestowed upon him the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

It’s hard to believe the season has come to an end because I remember so clearly how it began for me: waking up Thanksgiving morning, watching Macy’s parade, putting up the Christmas tree with all its ornaments.

Then shopping on Small Business Saturday with my friend Tonya. We walked around the circle in our plaid pajamas, buying gifts, eating lunch.

That was the day I wore my brand new cowboy boots for the first time. Slipped them on at 8:30, went to the Circle…then walked around, up and down until 1:30 pm.

By the time I got home, ooh wee!, my feet hurt, not only from being in brand new boots but walking 5 hours in heels. What was I thinking?

I can tell you what I was thinking as I tried for the next 15 minutes to take them off! But I can’t repeat all the words I used because it took forever to remove those boots.

I pulled, I pushed, I twisted. I lay on my back, I took mini breaks. Eventually the boots came off, but not before I hurt my back and broke into a sweat.

But wow!, did my feet feel good once they were set free and on flat, carpeted ground.

You can bet that the next time I wore those boots it was for a shorter period of time and while sitting down.

If there’s one thing I learned, you got to take care of your feet; that’s no joke. Our feet are our main form of transportation.

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

It’s hard to do either if your feet are not in fully functioning order.

Yes, you can take a camel, you can take a horse, you can take a plane, train, or automobile, but feet are still the most basic mode of transportation we got.

With 26 bones and over 7,000 nerve endings our feet are among the most sensitive body parts. They provide us with strength and movement, yet are more delicate then our hands.

Those who work in alternative medicine make claim that a map of the human body can be found on the soles of our feet and that our feet are a reflection of our health.

For over 5,000 years in places like Japan and Egypt, healers have worked with people’s feet to ease tension, soothe emotions and help to reconnect with their spirit.

Throughout time, feet have represented mobility, security, foundation and for the Greeks, the feet represented the soul.

Think of our American sayings. After a disaster or disappointment, what do we do? Get back on our feet.

We put our best food forward. We find ourselves on good footing.

Others of us have been known to put our foot in our mouth.

That’s way more than anyone ever expected to hear about feet during Epiphany, but there is a reason.

Nearly 2,500 years ago, Isaiah wrote “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace…who says to Zion ‘Your God reigns.’”

Nearly 2,000 years ago Joseph and Mary entered into Bethlehem and the shepherds came to pay tribute.

It was most likely done by foot.

While King Herod chose to remain on his throne, in fear and trepidation, the wise men came to pay tribute to the Christ child. Was their entire journey by camel or donkey or did they make their way on foot as well?

And though scripture doesn’t say it, can’t we just picture how the feet of baby Jesus must have kicked out from the manger with glee?

Can’t we see how Mary, like any good mother, would tickle her child’s feet and play with his toes and say things like “cootchie cootchie coo”?

In fact, throughout the Gospel of Luke which we read from on Christmas Eve, feet play an important part.

In Luke’s Gospel, Martha’s sister sits by the feet of Jesus as he teaches her. The man with demons sits beside the feet of Jesus once he is cured.

A sinful woman bathes Jesus’ feet with tears and anoints them with tender kisses. Faithful believers fall beside his feet.

The beautiful feet of Jesus brought Good News about the Kingdom of God from village to village, as he offered teachings and healings, hospitality and hope.

Can’t you just see the feet of his followers as they follow their shepherd amongst green pastures and still waters?

Can’t you just see the feet of Jesus’ followers as they dance with joy with the knowledge that their God creates, saves and blesses?

Of course, it would be wrong of me not to state something else: that it will also be the feet of Jesus that will be nailed to the cross.

His feet, made up of 7,000 nerve endings, one of the most sensitive parts of his entire body, will be pierced by the powers that be.

…but I would also be remiss not to remind us that it was also with his feet that the resurrected Christ invites the disciples to look at so they would know and believe that he is indeed the Risen Lord.

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

Jeremiah told the people of a day that they will walk beside brooks of water and the women will rejoice in dance.

Isaiah states “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace.”

Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the wise men all made their journey into Bethlehem, most likely using their feet for part, if not all, of the journey.

We too have made our way into Bethlehem to see and discover the Christ child and to realize that his feet will not only be signs of how he lived, but how he died and how he was resurrected.

And it is not just the feet of Jesus that are beautiful…it’s the feet of anyone who carries the Good News of God’s Kingdom.

The feet of anyone who does justice, who love kindness, who loves neighbor as themselves and humbly walks with the Lord are beautiful as well.

“Where have you come from and where are you going?”

Friends, family, community members, we have journeyed into Bethlehem to see the face of God and to find our spirits born anew.

Now, may we go out into the world proclaiming joy, proclaiming peace, proclaiming hope, proclaiming healing.

May our feet, our mouths, our hands, our words, our actions, whatever we may have, whatever we may be able to use, show the world that our God is one who offers us

comfort, our God is one who can turn our sorrow into our joy and that in Jesus Christ we do have “enough” no matter what the reason, no matter what the season.


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