Summary: How to turn tears of Rage and Grief into tears of Joy.

The vicar and I have this ongoing debate about whether you need to include every reading in each sermon. She reckons you should, I think that if they aren’t obviously related then pick one or two and concentrate on them.

Jeremiah 8.18 - 9.1; Psalm 79.1-9; 1 Timothy 2.1-10; Luke 16.1-13

That Gospel reading seems a bit scary (and very challenging).

I will say that the point of the story is NOT that it’s OK to be a con artist as long as you get away with it in the end! NOR is it about about making our own lives more comfortable!

It IS about money and how we use it in our lives. It IS about understanding that money is neutral, it’s how we use it that makes it honest or dishonest. We’ll see that with regards to ancient Judah.

It is NOT about winning your way into heaven by bribing people.

It IS about our view of life — we are not here for the weekend, not even for retirement — we’re here to plan for eternity. To bring people into God’s kingdom. Anyway possible: our prayers, our wealth, our time, all to support God’s work.

It IS about warning us of the judgement of God.

Now that the gospel is out of the way, I’m going to ignore it (but put your hands up if you hear me refer to it later). here’s what I really want to talk about:

I’m going to go back to my music theme from three weeks ago, when we looked at pop songs. Remember God’s breakup song with Israel? His anger at their betrayal by chasing worthless idols?

Today’s pop song focus is on tears: with Bob Dylan’s song Tears of Rage (tears of grief), now I’m not certain how far I can stretch this, so bear with me. I reckon that you can see shadows of Judah and Israel in the song…

We carried you in our arms

?On Independence Day?

And now you’d throw us all aside

And put us on our way

Tears of Rage, Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel

The LORD your God who goes before you …

just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes,

and in the wilderness,

where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you,

as a man carries his son…?

Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God,

Deuteronomy 1:30–32 ESV

If you have a study bible you can look up the current situation in Jeremiah — it’s 99 years since the fall of Samaria and the Northern Kingdom called Israel.

Do you remember a few weeks ago we had readings from Amos and Hosea?

They were about 100-130 years before this.

God was punishing them because they were worshipping idols and exploiting the poor.

They only paid lip service to God’s requirements but would not do them:

Oh what dear daughter ’neath the sun

Would treat a father so

To wait upon him hand and foot

And always tell him, “No?”

Tears of Rage, Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel

They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words.

They have gone after other gods to serve them.

The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers.

Jeremiah 11:10 ESV

In Judah (the Southern kingdom), just like the North, idolatry goes hand in hand with social injustice. :

“I hate, I despise your feasts,

and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,

I will not accept them;

Amos 5:21–22 ESV

They make a big show of coming to church but without repentance. They can't wait to leave and get back to exploiting the vulnerable

Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end…

Amos 8:4 ESV?

In other words, we must be scrupulously careful with how we use our wealth, we should use our money to serve God’s kingdom and not ours.

God has warned Judah over and over again but they have not turned back and his righteous anger is about to fall on them.

In other words we are dealing with God’s judgement of his people. Remember, they are God’s people and we are God’s people. God’s judgement is just as relevant to us today:

And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management’

Luke 16:2 ESV?

One day God will ask to see our accounts, have we been faithful with what he’s given us?

Our God is a righteous God and there must be justice for sin, but listen to how God feels about what’s about to come:

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