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The Book of Jeremiah is an ideal text for consideration in uncertain times like the one that currently exists in the U.S. War, terrorism, insurgency, weapons of mass destruction, occupation and globalization are topics that dominate the news. When American planes commandeered by Middle East terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and toppled them with nearly 3,000 people perishing in the debris, Americans were dumbfounded with shock. “How could this happen to us?” everyone wanted to know. “Where was God?” pundits and prophets tried to answer after we witnessed the horrors experienced by Gulf Coast victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Each of these traumas left shock and horror reminiscent of that felt by the inhabitants of the tiny kingdom of Judah felt when their foes from the north finally succeeded in breaking through their sacred city walls and terraces and laying waste their precious national symbols. “Is the Lord not in Zion?” the traumatized fanatics of the day wanted to know.

The Book of Jeremiah gives us citizens who are split at the root, torn by our love for this country and our disgust over its abuse of power as an empire, hope. It teaches us how to grieve over what we never thought we’d live to see, and how to help our country find new language and a new heart after ruin and the time comes to construct a new basis for our existence as a nation.

How does one survive despair and heartbreak? You survive by clinging to hope. Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams” someone said once. Hope sees to it that pain is not forever, that wounds heal and that death doesn’t have the final word. This is no expression of cheap grace which one utters to short circuit having to struggle and to numb oneself to the dangers involved in rooting out injustice. Hope is possible, says the prophet Jeremiah, because judgment is never an end in itself. It is the means for bringing God’s people into a new and more lasting relation ship with the divine.

The old order passes away making way for a new order to rise up from out of the ashes.

After witnessing the traumas and devastations of terrorism, war, natural disasters and the violence taking place routinely on our city streets, what kind of world do you dream of for the children coming after this generation? What wisdom should we be passing along today to the young to better prepare them to live in a changing world?

–Renita Weems

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