“The Fire in My Bones”

Jeremiah 20:9

April 9, 2022

For years my sermons all had the same title: “Sermon,” and in previous congregations, when I had a regular online blog…well…it was called (you guessed it) “Pastor’s Blog.” Not great for someone with an undergraduate degree in writing, so I thought about what would best express who and where I am as I approach the 37th anniversary of my ordination. After briefly considering “Rantings from the Rev,” I decided to turn instead to scripture.

During one of my early sermons, when I am appointed to a new congregation, I share my call story. Candidates for ministry are asked to reflect on which biblical call story is closest to their own, and early on my answer was Sarai, wife of Abram, who laughed when God revealed her future—becoming a mother at an advanced age. When I was called to ordained ministry, I (and many who knew me) could only laugh!

Now, my answer is Jeremiah: called at a young age (and clueless), he none-the-less trusted God to give him the words he was to speak—words that were often hard to speak, much less to hear. My seminary professors often exhorted us to “Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable,” to bring a prophetic word in seasons of complacency. “Jeremiah’s Complaint” is familiar to pastors who want to preach only what folks want to hear, pastors who want to be loved and not criticized. And so, Jeremiah decides to preach happy thoughts, only to feel that fire building within his bones.

My hope for you is that you feel that same fire. I feel an urgency for proclaiming the Gospel of God’s redeeming and transforming love through words and actions that are grace-filled but challenging—in other words: the toes I step on may very well be my own! I feel a fire in my bones for justice. I feel a fire in my bones for inclusivity. I’ve yet to meet a human beyond God’s love or a situation beyond God’s ability to redeem. That’s why Jeremiah bought a pricy piece of property during the Babylonian siege; his faith in God’s promised future was unshakable!

I also hope this forum will be a place to begin dialogue. We don’t have to agree on every matter of doctrine (or politics or hymn selection or…) but we do have to love each other. This is my passion. What’s yours?