Bloom Where You Are Planted

Scriptures: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7; 2 Timothy 2:8-15; Luke 17:11-19

Let us pray:

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts guide our understanding, O Holy One. Nurture us we pray, as we grow into who you would fashion us to be. Amen.

My sister and I recently pledged to seek and find ways to bloom where we are planted. Both of us have been experiencing some disconnect, with her move to Anchorage, Alaska. So every now and then I try to remind myself to reflect on the question, “How am I blooming today?”

Going into the winter season not far off, it may seem a little crazy to think about and utilize a blooming metaphor, but it certainly fits with today’s scripture reading from the prophet Jeremiah. Let me share with you some timely insights in Rev. Jill Duffield’s weekly reflection column from this week’s Presbyterian Outlook. She writes,

“The texts for this Sunday call us to take the long view and remember God’s promises and God’s faithfulness to those promises. We can rest joyfully in that knowledge in exile or at home, if a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House, if the doctor’s report is what we’d hoped or what we dreaded, if the promotion goes through or the job is lost. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Knowing the truth of God’s Word frees us to plant gardens, get married, have children and pray, even in cities where we aren’t citizens. God’s promises are sure no matter our current circumstances. No matter where we are and what we are facing, God is present and at work. No matter where we are or the suffering we endure, Jesus Christ has cleansed and saved us, reconciled and redeemed us, brought us this far and will not abandon us.

The journey may be winding and long, we may walk through the valley of death, feel homesick by the rivers of Babylon…but our gospel, Jesus Christ raised from the dead, reminds us that if we died with him, we will also live with him. Surely that is worthy of thanks and praise.

Stop for a moment. Pay attention to the healing Christ has accomplished in your life thus far. Remember that even death has been defeated…”[1]

Commentator Bruce Boak writes,

“Jeremiah challenges the Jews in captivity, and us, to embrace the place where God has us and find ways to be faithful in our living, so that others might inquire about our inspiration, our resolve, and our trust, and thereby be drawn into relationship with God.”[2]

“…drawn into relationship with God…” You know, in our reading from Luke’s Gospel today, I wonder if that one healed leper – a Samaritan – was drawn into relationship with God. I wonder, if being drawn into relationship with God always correlates to falling deeply into worship. I wonder, if in our daily lives, in ordinary places, at ordinary times, we can still find ourselves drawn into God. Do we have to be healed miraculously? I wonder if all it takes is less than a mustard seed’s worth of faith or love to crack the door to a deeper relationship – with our spouse, our children, our parents, our grandchildren, our Savior God in Jesus Christ.

“This week we are called to consider if we are the one or the nine. Are we giving thanks for present blessings while trusting God’s promises for the future? Are we enhancing the welfare of the [communities] in which we presently live? Are we praying for them? Are we keenly aware that our welfare is wrapped up in the welfare of the place we find ourselves, even if not by choice?

What are the ways we are called to enhance the good of the community in which we are immersed?”[3]

Like the Samaritan leper who was healed, let us live fully in the present, give thanks for all that Jesus has done to get us this far, and remember the Gospel lens that allows us to view our past, present, and future. Let us, like Jeremiah urges, take the long view, and trust in God’s promises, for they will certainly stand.

May all glory be unto the One who lived and died and rose again for us, even Him who is the Christ. Amen? Let us pray:

“Thanks be to you, O God, that you have made us in the image of your own mystery. That in the soul of every human being there are depths beyond naming and heights greater than knowing.

Grant us the grace of inner sight this day, that we may see you as the Self within all selves. Grant us the grace of love this day that amidst the pain and disfigurement of our own lives we may find the treasure that is unlocked by love and know the richness that lies buried in the human soul.”[4] 

[1] Duffield, Jill. Presbyterian Outlook online weekly lectionary contributor. October 9 lectionary readings. © 2016 Used with permission

[2] Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary – Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 4: Season After Pentecost 2 (Propers 17-Reign of Christ).

[3] Duffield, Jill. Presbyterian Outlook online weekly lectionary contributor, October 9 lectionary readings. © 2016 Used with permission

[4] Adapted from Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter

Questions for Reflection – From Feasting on the Word

In both the reading from Jeremiah and the reading from Luke, God is at work not only among the chosen people of Israel, but also among those considered enemies of Israel. God tells Israel to make its home among the Babylonians while in exile, seeking the welfare of the city to which they have been sent. Jesus heals a “double-outcast,” a man who is a Samaritan and a leper. Is there someone in your own life whom you feel is an “enemy” to you—or someone you would rather not be associated with for some reason? Who are enemies in a larger sphere (national, political, or social)? How can you “seek their welfare”? How may you, in faith, reach out to such a one?

Household Prayer: Morning

God of endings, of packing up decisions of keeping and leaving of saying goodbye the practice of closing and tidying of moving the finality of distance between of newness, the lonely silence of emptiness. Grant me the strength to start over.  Amen.

Household Prayer: Evening

Generous God: a day of worship, a day of rest a, day in community, a day to be blessed, a day for offering, a day for welcoming, a day of remembering, a day of reckoning—this is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Amen.

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
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