Ok everyone…here goes Monday…
Today’s scripture: Jeremiah 11:1-5 (from the Message)
The Message that came to Jeremiah from God:
“Preach to the people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem. Tell them this: ‘This is God’s Message, the Message of Israel’s God to you. Anyone who does not keep the terms of this covenant is cursed. The terms are clear. I made them plain to your ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt, out of the iron furnace of suffering.
“‘Obey what I tell you. Do exactly what I command you. Your obedience will close the deal. You’ll be mine and I’ll be yours. This will provide the conditions in which I will be able to do what I promised your ancestors: to give them a fertile and lush land. And, as you know, that’s what I did.’”
“Yes, God,” I replied. “That’s true.”
In my house growing up, there were many ways that my brothers and made promises to each other. We would just tell each other things and sometimes it wouldn’t matter enough to do anything about it. It just was. Or we would play a game that would get us into “I swear it mode.” To say, “I swear” made it seem more plausible and more important. This upped the ante for sure. When we really wanted the other to believe we might even fight about it a bit. But ultimately there were two ways to put your money where your mouth was. Almost to the most important was to bet a slurpee on it. Now, I never even really cared for slurpees but this was the ULTIMATE bet. If you bet a slurpee on something, it….was….on. This actually one of the motivating factors for me to become a vegetarian. I came home from college one summer and declared that I was becoming a vegetarian (more accurately a pescatarian) and the brothers didn’t think I could make it. If I could go veggie all summer long, I would receive the well earned slurpee. And if you didn’t know this about me, I am just a tiny bit stubborn. I was going to win that slurpee. 10 years later and I am still a pescatarian. …besides the point.
What was the last level of swearing you could possibly achieve in my house growing up? The pinky swear. This meant true and final business. If you pinky swore on something, it was all over. This was serious. This was something you could not break. This was by far the most covenant making type of promise. You would take this swear to your grave. There was no fighting or laughing about this one…you put your pinky on it.
As I look back I am not so sure why it was such a big deal but to this day when my brothers and I get together and someone makes a claim to swear on….out come the pinkies! Pinkies go up and the challenge is laid down, “are you willing to pinky swear on that?” “You do know what that means, right?” “Ok, here is my pinky…where is yours?” Ultimately we create promises and bonds with one another. When we make the swear with each other, we claim each other as part of our make up. We have a relationship. We have a bond. We have a reason to keep coming back to each other and to be obedient to each other in that covenant.
When I read this scripture today I thought of the serious promises we make one another and what that means. For God, through the prophets, we constantly hear that we have a covenant with God. We are God’s and God is ours. We belong to each other. I am usually a bit gun shy about the words of obedience…they can be used so nastily but this morning I think it could be a comforting image of only being obedient to God. We are part of a relationship with God that is intimate, promise making, and ready to be lived out. The covenant that we are called to be in is also a two way street which I love. We aren’t just being told what to do but we have a responsibility to continue the relationship as well. That is the beauty and hardship of covenant….goes both ways. Jeremiah calls out the need for the people to remember that relationship with God. What difference would it make in your day to realize that we are close and tight with God? That God wants to be that personal with us that we have a relationship with our creator? How would it change your day to day walk throughout the day? What would it mean to be in covenant with God?
And you know what? If you think about it today….I owe you a slurpee. 🙂