Jeremiah 27: 1-2 (NRSVA)
1 In the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord. 2 Thus the Lord said to me: Make yourself a yoke of straps and bars, and put them on your neck.
If Jeremiah were alive today, I imagine his Youtube channel would get a lot of hits from people wondering what on earth he was up do. “Oh look, he’s uploaded a ‘make your own yoke’ tutorial. He says his ideas come from God, but frankly the guy is a bit nuts. Can’t seem to stop watching though. Can you believe he had the nerve to tag the royal family and the Houses of Parliament in this one?”
Maybe Jeremiah was a little strange, or maybe he understood that a good prop can really enhance a message — especially a message as outrageous as one suggesting that the Israelites were supposed to submit to Babylonian rule. Or maybe he was just foolish enough to be obedient to God’s instructions, however strange they seemed.
One thing is certain. He didn’t let the opinions of others get in the way of the job he was called to do, namely to point the Israelites back to God through the experiences of repentance and exile.
I think part of what gave Jeremiah his resilience was a strong streak of gold in his make-up. The thing about gold is that it is extraordinarily malleable. It can be hammered paper-thin without shattering. Unlike the fool’s gold mentioned earlier in the week its colour and lustre don’t fade, no matter what you put the gold through. Even the heaviest or strangest of yokes around his neck, could not bury the gleam of truth in Jeremiah’s eyes.
Lord, these are weighty times
How exhausting it is to be locked down again,
the hammer of restrictions beating many of us into the ground,
the yoke of isolation heavy around our necks.
Help us to believe that we cannot be shattered
Strengthen that vein of gold within each of us,
vibrant, unsullied, resistant to all efforts to break it.
Bowed, but unbroken,
we bear the weight,
we bear the wait,
until our burdens are lifted