“That’s My God”

January 4, 2015
Jonathan Rumburg
Jeremiah 31:7-14

Before I got married, I lived on my own for a long time. Naturally, I got used to living by myself, and having my own space, and doing things the way I liked to do them.

Over the last five and half years, that has changed—a lot! No longer is my space, my space.

When I got married, I had to share my space, which I think I did a good job doing. My wife might tell you differently though. What has been the real challenge has been the last three years. Kids. Kids just take over! Not only do they have a ton of stuff—their stuff is everywhere.

I swear the only two places I can go where there isn’t something of the kids is my side of the bed, and the driver’s seat of my car.

When you share living quarters with someone—a spouse, children, parents, roommates— you quickly learn how quirky the habits and hang-ups of others can be.

Whether we focus on individual practices, such as, “Why does she always have to leave her shoes right in the middle of the doorway!” or general personality traits, like, “Why is he always so grumpy in the morning?” we soon learn a person’s ways, we learn what to expect and how to read the signs of the other’s presence.

Know someone long enough, and well enough, and you can predict their behavior with some degree of accuracy. For instance…

Your spouse leaves the garage door open once again, thus exposing its contents to the menacing night time drudgery that lurks through your city. But then you realize that the reason she didn’t put it down was because she was rushing to get to toddler to the potty, determined to not lose another pull-up. With your mind considering the bigger picture, you say, “That’s my wife.”

Your sister was told what time she needed to be to Christmas dinner, but once again, the hour has come and gone, and she’s not there. But fortunately after decades of doing this dance with her, you told her to be there a full hour earlier than she really needed to be, so when she walks in the door, she’s actually right on time. With a smirk of self-satisfaction, you say, “That’s my sister.”

Maybe you are recuperating at home from a rotten case of the flu when your doorbell rings, and your neighbor comes in with chicken soup for you and a casserole for the family. Through a haze of pain relievers and tissues, you murmur gratefully, “That’s my neighbor.”

Or, after a long day of work, and you just want to come home, have dinner, and watch Monday Night Football, your little toddler begs you to play Candy Land with her. And when you say, “Oh honey, Daddy had a long day,” she just looks up at you and says, “Please Daddy, just one game.” And of course you cave, knowing full well it won’t be just one game. Still though, you sigh with a welled up heart and say, “That’s my Violet.”

What all of this leads to is that we learn to expect, and accept, the typical actions and reactions from those closest to us whether we like what they do or not.

But what also happens is that it’s in these moments we discover the good stuff—the idiosyncrasies—of the world you live within, and you learn to revel in it!

It’s these moments that you see the true abundance of blessings that come from those who you are lucky to have in your life.

And because of this, suddenly the things that you thought you had to have, don’t matter much anymore. The ways in which you thought everything had to be, don’t have to be that way.

Such is the case because you know no matter what, you are blessed, and you are blessed abundantly.

And here’s the thing—such is the case with the people we live with, the people in our lives, but it is especially so when it comes to our relationship with God.

When we stop for a moment, and consider God in our lives—the blessings of God, and the abundance of God— we will begin to see all the idiosyncrasies of God—the good stuff as it is called—that shows us God on intimate levels we never would see otherwise.

 

Move 1

Jeremiah had a deep and intimate relationship with God. And because he did, he knew God’s heart and God’s intentions for Israel as well as any human could.

He had served as God’s prophet from his youth. He had lived through some of the most devastating and disappointing moments in Israel’s history. He had faced and outfaced the hardheartedness, foolishness and false loyalties of the people.

And, not surprisingly, because he knew God’s purposes, as well as God’s people, Jeremiah’s message was laced with warnings and woe—he was a prophet after all.

But Jeremiah’s ultimate understanding of God provided him with the ability to see the big picture. The prophet could see past the moment of divinely ordained punishment to the time of divinely directed restoration.

Jeremiah knew that God was not vindictive; he knew that God was not unloving. He knew, rather, it was God’s love and loyalty that motivate the seemingly harsh words any prophet was called to deliver. He knew that God was working for restoration and redemption, but that the people kept getting in the way of such.

But Jeremiah also knew, God was never going to give up—God knew the people so well, and because God did, God knew what they needed. And what they needed, was God—who would come with things like goodness, joy, bounty, and fatness.

And when Jeremiah talked of these things he was conveying to us that we do not have a stingy and tightfisted God.

If we turn back to the story of Adam and Eve, we see that the picture of the Garden of Eden is not bare. When God told Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” God was doing more than telling them to have babies.

The Hebrew word for “fill the earth” is about cultivating abundance in one’s life— but not just stuff mind you, rather the good stuff, like: relationships, connection, hospitality, compassion, understanding, acceptance, the beauty of diversity.

That is what God wanted for God’s people. That is what God wanted with God’s people. That is what God strove for and worked for, making that ultimate “good stuff” in the form of the Christ Child, Immanuel, God with us.

 

 

Move 2

Jeremiah’s book offers us the perfect example of a moment in time when we see all the idiosyncrasies of God, a time when we see God act in ways that only God would, or could, and all we can do is shake our heads in wonder and awe and exclaim: “That’s my God.”

In fact, the entire audacious notion of an involved, attentive deity should cause us to examine each page of Scripture with our eyes open in amazement that this remarkable attraction to human history is, miraculously.

Consider for a moment…

*The divine power that set everything into motion chooses an insignificant, run-of-the-mill planet in an insignificant, run-of-the-mill galaxy, in an insignificant, run-of-the-mill universe to make God known.

All we can say is: “That’s my God.”

*God chooses not the power brokers of Egypt, or the rich of Nubia, or the technologically advanced Samarians, but a ragtag tribe of nomadic sheepherders, known for little more than their stubbornness and willfulness, to invite into a covenant with God.

All we can say is: “That’s my God.”

*God chooses an unremarkable, unknown, technologically stagnant, historically insignificant, run-of-the-mill small town in which to be born into human flesh.

All we can say is: “That’s my God.”

*When Jesus feeds the hungry, as he did with the 5,000, there is plenty left over.

All we can say is: “That’s my God.”

*When Jesus clothes the naked, as God did with the “lilies of the field,” there is an adornment surpassing anything Solomon in all his glory could have imagined.

All we can say is: “That’s my God.”

 

Move 3
At Christmas we invite into our homes, our lives, God in Jesus.

And what results is that things change—yes challenging changes—but it all leads to the good stuff, where we learn all those little idiosyncrasies of God in Jesus.

But now, it’s January 4th. Christmas is over; the New Year has been rung in.

We are done with the holidays, done with Christmas.

But here’s the thing— God isn’t. God is only beginning.

Christmas isn’t over because God and Jesus are always doing a new thing and it is still going on.

  Christmas was and is about that deeper relationship between God and us—God literally moving in with us, being with us, sharing in the most intimate parts of our lives.

But here’ the question we must ask—God isn’t done with Christmas, but how about us?

Are we ok with putting Christmas away until next year?

Are we just bidding our time until tomorrow when we all go back to work, back to normal, the old routines?

Or, will we renew our covenant, our promises, to be obedient in faith to move forward with new beginnings for us and others?

Conclusion

St. Jerome, a priest, theologian, historian, and doctor of the church, contends that when we pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are not praying for a prison diet of bread and water.

The word: “epiousios” (e-pē-ü’-sēē-os ) which we translate as “daily”, is better translated as “abundance”.

This would mean then, that we pray for an abundant supply of whatever it takes to make the body and soul faithful instruments for God.

And no doubt, we are given beyond what we need for subsistence.

But more so, we are given beyond what we deserve in grace and forgiveness, in redemption and new life.

The old way of life has come to an end, and a new way, in Jesus, is unfolding because Christmas is about salvation and new identity for us—an identity that reveals to us the abundance that surrounds us day in and day out.
And because we are blessed with such abundance, all we can say is: “That’s my God.” Amen.

 

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