When I lived in Iowa City, I was surrounded by brilliant people. One of them was Dave. Dave is a skinny, long-haired musician with a Bob Dylan voice who makes music under the name Paleo. A few years ago, he set out to write a song every day for a year, and he did. His Song Diary is an incredible feat in and of itself, but it’s what NPR music critic Deborah Amos said that sticks out as his triumph — the wide bevvy of music that runs the gamut between hope and despair “has taken a toll on his psyche.” (You can read the whole article, and hear a few of Dave’s songs, here.)
It’s not always a bad thing to have a toll taken on your psyche; we are human beings, in process, seeking to express our truths and values in relationships and interactions with God and one another. (I am not ascribing, nor denying, a religiosity to Dave, by the way.) If something matters, it will change you. If something is important, you cannot remain the same. If something gives you life, resurrects your spirit, alters the course of your life… you become something new.
Maybe I’m going too far out there in preparing this week’s sermon on Jeremiah 31. The prophet Jeremiah has been nicknamed “the weeping prophet,” and being the voice of God in times of turbulence, exile and destruction perhaps has taken a toll on Jeremiah’s psyche. Speaking faithfulness to faithlessness, truth to power, change to stalwart embeddedness is not an easy task; being proven right — as destruction rains down as prophesied and promised by the prophet — is not the victory he expected. And in this chaos, with the toll taken, Jeremiah hears a word of hope, an assurance of pardon, a new covenant to make things whole.
So where there is chaos and unrest, let us together seek to find peace and hope. Where there is apathy and ignorance, let us together work to spread love and build justice. Wherever we may be in this moment together, let’s not consider it final or forever. Instead, let’s lean in to this new covenant, now and on Sunday. I look forward to seeing you then.