12 March 2018

Jeremiah 13:1-11

“Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. But now the loincloth was ruined; it was good for nothing.” (v. 7)

Psalm: Psalm 37:1-11


I can remember when I was a child being told by my mum to make sure I had clean socks and underwear. “Why?” I asked. “In case you’re knocked down and taken to hospital,” she replied. Of course, it’s obvious! Why else? It all seemed a bit weird then. I was once taken to hospital after coming off my bike on the way home from school. I woke up three hours later with concussion. As I gathered my senses I was more concerned about the bike than my underwear!

Now, many years later, I understand. I guess my mother was concerned about how she and dad would be seen if I was wearing dirty clothes, or worse, dirty underwear. And it seems that this image has a long history. Here is Jeremiah warning the people by means of an acted parable that if they ignore God, then shame will be brought on them. It is every bit as vivid, but also as strange as my mother’s predilection.

Parents are proud of their children. God is proud of Judah. Yet if Judah is shamed, then that reflects back on God. I think people would have got that message.

But today, how much do we think of what we do and say, or how we behave, not simply because of what people might think of us, but of what that might say of our adherence to the faith we claim?

Returning from taking a service one evening I stopped for petrol. The man who was serving me remarked on my dog collar. “It’s Lent,” he said. “Are you fasting?” I had to admit I wasn’t. “In Ramadan we do,” he replied gently. I feel we worship the same God by different names, but I was left in no doubt that for that moment he was the better witness.

To Ponder

  • How does what you say and do witness positively to God?
  • Have you ever been brought up short by something someone from another faith (or none) has said to us? How did you feel? And how did you respond – either at the time or later on?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Pratt

Andrew is a Methodist supernumerary presbyter, Honorary Research Fellow at Luther King House, Manchester, and author. He has written over 1,300 hymns.