Putting Words In One's Mouth

Putting Words In One's Mouth


Scripture: Jeremiah 1:4-10 (NRSV)

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.'
Then I said, 'Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.' But the Lord said to me,
'Do not say, "I am only a boy";
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.'
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
'Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.'


One of my favorite things in working with those who are entering ordained ministry is to be able to ask them good questions. I have great respect for good questions. I have to confess that on the other hand I get annoyed by "bad" questions. My definition of a "bad" question is when someone asks you a question that has only one answer (their answer) or which can be answered without thought and a simple "yes" or "no". I confess I like questions that make the person being asked a question actually think.

One of my "go to" questions in examining a person for ordination is to ask them this: "What call story in Scripture do you most closely connect with in your journey".

There are of course a variety of answers to this question. God calls Moses to lead the people (Exodus 3 and 4). Abraham and Sarah are called into a unique and holy leadership (Genesis 12:1-9). Queen Esther is called to use her power and position for "such a time as this." The story of Samuel helps us understand that the call of God requires us to discern God's voice (1 Samuel 3:1-10). The disciples of Jesus are called to drop everything and follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22). Paul is called to reverse his life story in a dramatic conversion account (Acts 9:1-9). These are but a few examples.

Today's scripture is about the call of God to a young person. Jeremiah does not get to make an excuse for being too young. Age doesn't get us off the hook. God calls young and old and in between to lead a life worthy of the calling to be the beloved ones God has called each one of us to be. Our call as children of God is to love God and to love our neighbors. We are all chosen to serve God through our lives and to carry out the ministries that God call us to.

The great thing about that is God gives us what we need to carry out our callings. In Jeremiah's case, even without Preaching 101, he is equipped by God with the words that he needs to carry out his mission and ministry to which God has called him. The same is true for you and for me. God has given us gifts for the ministries to which we are called. God calls you and God calls me to live out our lives in faithful ways. Thank God that we are given the gifts to equip us to do just that.


Calling God: You call each one of us to ministry. Help us to not make excuses about what we can't do. Help us to rely on the gifts you have given us to proclaim your love, justice, compassion and hope to the world in which we live. Thank you for calling each one of us to live fully in your love. Amen.

August 17, 2016
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