Today I received the request to provide my directory information for the GreenFaith fellowship program. Along with the request came a copy of last year's directory to give an idea of the format. What an interesting group of people! I look forward to the opportunity to dialog with the many voices of this year's fellows.
There are other voices, too, which I want to engage. One of these is the voice of the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah. At the end of a 250-year or so period of royal prosperity for the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding kingdom, Jeremiah begins a period of ministry that takes him from youth to old age, from an apparently prosperous nation to its break-up and exile. The first verses of his book, while paying ironic lip service to the convention of measuring time by the reigns of kings, in fact convey a different and subversive message: the word of the LORD is the constant element, while the kings come and go, and all their pretensions lead to "the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month".
250 years is a long time. In fact, it's roughly as long as our present industrial civilization has been around, and that's certainly long enough to come to take prosperity for granted. But as commentator Walter Brueggemann writes, "[the book of Jeremiah] is a literary-theological disclosure of the unraveling of a royal world, of the disintegration of a stable universe of public order and public confidence." Their model on which prosperity had been built - even, their definition of what prosperity is - was faulty, said Jeremiah to the people, and those faults were about to be exposed.
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