The prophet Jeremiah (like most prophets, really) has harsh words for the people. That is, harsh words from God for the people who God has tried to love and care for so well. (Not to mention that whole "brought them out of slavery in Egypt" bit...)
But God names two "evils" they've chosen, in this week's passage: forsaking God's "life-giving water," and trying to make cisterns for themselves.
Maybe it's my independent, do-it-myself streak, but this hits home. In choose to make our own way without God, we end up stumbling twice. First, by turning away from God, and then, because our own attempts to do God-stuff on our own come out pretty faulty. Cracked cisterns, Jeremiah said.
I've been thinking about this. I have a vision for an ad campaign that would target cars parked in the Ikea lot (if only I didn't hate the idea of leaflets on windshields so much): church is for all those times with do-it-yourself gets lonely. Or for all the things in life that can't be flat-packaged.
(Of course, I'm also infatuated with Ikea's pictographs that illustrate many things, from assembly instructions to warnings on flammable objects. If only we had more pictographs in church. But, again, I digress...)
So much in our world tells us that we can have the perfect life if we just buy the right things, or achieve the right status.
Jeremiah reminds us that our attempts at making the stuff that really matters are going to look pretty half-baked. (They won't hold water, to run with his metaphors.)
And then, this Sunday's gospel lesson continues to make this point: if we think we can be cool by inviting the right people, or positioning ourselves in just the right spot, we're sadly misguided. In Jesus' kingdom, the winners are those who humble themselves, and the thing to do is to invite the people who are least cool.
Actually, Jesus says to invite "the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind," which, in his time, would all have been people unable to participate fully in community, and about whom people made all sorts of assumptions about their being sinful people. I wonder who most fits this bill in the culture of our community, and our church. Perhaps we should invite folks with prison records, addicted to drugs, or who lack legal documentation and immigrated here illegally? Or perhaps we should invite people whose politics are contrary to our own? Or who suffer from mental illness?
When we do a good job of welcoming all God's children--of inviting them to the best party we can throw--then maybe we'll find ourselves in the midst of God's kindgom.