Jeremiah 4.11-28 (Contemporary English Version)

When disaster comes, the Lord will tell you people of Jerusalem,

“I am sending a windstorm from the desert—
not a welcome breeze.

And it will sweep you away
as punishment for your sins.
Look! The enemy army
swoops down like an eagle;
their cavalry and chariots
race faster
than storm clouds
blown by the wind.”

Then you will answer,
“We are doomed!”

But Jerusalem, there is still time
for you to be saved.
Wash the evil from your hearts
and stop making sinful plans,
before a message of disaster

from the hills of Ephraim
and the town of Dan.

The Lord said,

“Tell the nations that my people
have rebelled against me.
And so an army will come
from far away
to surround Jerusalem
and the towns of Judah.
I, the Lord, have spoken.

“People of Judah,
your hearts will be in pain,
but it’s your own fault
that you will be punished.”

I can’t stand the pain!
My heart pounds,
as I twist and turn in agony.
I hear the signal trumpet
and the battle cry of the enemy,
and I cannot be silent.
I see the enemy defeating us
time after time,
leaving everything in ruins.
Even my own home
is destroyed in a moment.
How long will I see enemy flags
and hear their trumpets?

I heard the Lord say,
“My people ignore me.
They are foolish children
who do not understand
that they will be punished.
All they know is how to sin.”

After this, I looked around.
The earth was barren,
with no form of life.
The sun, moon, and stars
had disappeared.
The mountains were shaking;
no people could be seen,
and all the birds
had flown away.
Farmland had become a desert,
and towns were in ruins.

The Lord’s fierce anger
had done all of this.

The Lord said:

I have made my decision,
and I won’t change my mind.
This land will be destroyed,
although not completely.
The sky will turn dark,
and the earth will mourn.

Prophets like Jeremiah spoke a specific word to a specific people at a specific time. We are the beneficiaries of their wisdom, insight, timeless calls to justice and the lessons of the consequences of living unjustly. Sometimes words recorded over 2500 years ago are too timely. We heed these words so we do not pay the consequences of our wilful ignorance. When we heed them.

Teenagers are the prophetic voice in our world. They demand climate justice, fairness so they will not be the generation that faces extinction. When we collapse time we are aware that eventually Jeremiah’s people re-built. So we are tempted to take heart in the midst of the climate crisis. But the rebuilding of Jerusalem came two generations later. And what they restored was nothing like what they lost. Their grandparents left them with a meagre, vulnerable and anxious existence.

September 20-27 stand with those teenagers. Listen to them. Pray for them. And for yourself.

Prayers for our Children (based on prayers of Hildegard of Bingen)

The earth is mother,
She is mother of all that is natural, mother of all that is human.
She is the mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all.
The earth of humankind contains all moistness, all verdancy, all germinating power.
It is in so many ways fruitful.
All creation comes from it. Yet it forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the incarnation of God’s Child.

From that substance our children are born.

For their sake we will seek then end of the corruption of our mother.

The high,
the low
all of creation
God gives to humankind to use. If this privilege is misused,
God’s Justice permits creation to punish humanity.

Grant that our children shall not be punished for our sins,

that their teeth will not be set on edge as we have grown sour grapes,

that they shall know the grace, and peace,

of a Christ who told them they belonged.


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