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{advent study week one
come near to me, emmanuel}

advent wreath - bible study

Jeremiah 1:4-10

The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

It would be nice if God would keep a proper distance. If you have traveled much in the Middle East, you know that people tend to intrude upon your personal space, at least as it is defined here in America. They don't spread out ofer the bus, but tend to bunch - right next to you. They don't stand two feet away in conversation. It is right in your face. God is right in Jeremiah's face.

Other than Jeremiah's weak objection in verse 6 {I do not know how to speak, I am too young}, we don't get much of an insight about what Jeremiah thinks of this new arrangement (which is actually not new at all - surprise!) I imagine he is squirming.

Francis Thompson wrote "The Hound of Heaven" in 1893 describing God's relentless pursuit of the writer through "the arches of the years" and "labyrinthine ways," with "deliberate speed, majestic instancy." "The Voice" does hound us, makes demands of us, knows what we are capable of, and expects us to use our gifts to build and to plant. God will not keep a respectful distance, but sit right next to us on the bus, no matter how much room there is elsewhere.


O Heavenly Voice, near and far, round me "like the bursting sea," forgive my deafness, my turned head, my glazed eyes, my reluctant steps, always checking for email rather than my Lord's whispers. Persist, that I may desist, and return to what has never left me. Amen

Whit Bodman - Associate Professor of Comparative Religion

Reflections on Advent from the
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary Community


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  1. You are SO right about the Middle East. Israelis really have no sense of personal space. I loved it though, especially in the crowded markets and streets. Made me feel alive!

  2. Great post. I have never been to the Middle East, but I probably wouldn't mind the closeness. Having children that are constantly all up in my personal space has made me careless about how close i'm standing to someone. =D

  3. That's one of the readings we're using at my ordination in two weeks!

  4. fantastic,
    ....thanks for this
    wonderful share!
    grinning and grateful,


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