I’m throwing you a curve this morning. We have two choices for our first reading: the reading from Genesis in your service booklet and the reading from Jeremiah I’m going to preach on in the insert. Truthfully, I knew what I wanted to say about Jeremiah (and had no idea what I wanted to say about any of the other readings). So I switched us to the alternate reading.

A prophet’s life is not an easy life.
I could pull up any number of examples. But let’s just take Jeremiah from this morning’s reading from the Hebrew Scriptures.
Jeremiah says that God has enticed him. In the Hebrew context, he’s basically saying that God has seduced him. He was first seduced, and then overpowered. The imagery here, in the Hebrew, is really suggestive of rape! In our own world, something like date rape comes to mind.
For Jeremiah, the word of God has become a reproach and a derision. God has given him a message of violence and destruction. The Northern Kingdom of Judah is facing invasion from the Babylonians. But he is here to tell them that failure to follow God is their real problem. They are faint destruction. They are facing a national calamity. But what they really need to do is to put their own house in order and follow their God. Because no matter what else they may do, they are going to lose this war.
Do the people listen? Not really. They hear what he has to say. And this leads them to brand him a traitor. They respond by mocking him and his message. He’s become a punch line! They nickname him “terror all around.” His close friends are watching for him to stumble. Can you imagine what his enemies are doing?
This is not how Jeremiah wanted to live his life. He tried to hold God’s message inside of himself. He tried to remain silent. But that was even worse! It was like a burning fire shut up in his bones. He grew weary trying to hold it in … he could not hold it in. He was overpowered.
“You!” he tells God this morning, “you have done this to me.”

But, as upset as he is, he knows something that those who are refusing to hear God’s message do not know. God is with him, like a dread warrior. Jeremiah may be mocked, but he cannot be overcome. Those who are persecuting him cannot prevail.
Ultimately it is those who are persecuting him who will stumble and be overcome. They are the ones who are shamed. They are overcome by the Babylonians and carried off into exile and they never return. These are the ten lost tribes of Israel who leave behind only an uneducated remnant who become the Samaritans of Jesus’ day. That’s how history remembers them.

But, still, it’s a struggle.
Mind you, I suspect all of us have our struggles with God at one time or another. All of us have our own life issues.
The question is, really, are we willing to take our troubles to God? Are we willing to face God with what we are honestly feeling?
I think biblical faith does.
That’s what Job does, asking God again and again why he is being persecuted.That’s what Psalm 39 does. In it, the psalmist tells God, “Turn your gaze from me, that I may be glad again, before I go my way and am no more.” In our reading from Jeremiah, the prophet in effect accuses God of seducing and raping him. These are people who have real issues with God. And they take them straight to God.
And God is big enough to handle it.
The thing is to stay in relationship while we struggle.

My daughter Thea played me a country western song sometime back, about someone who had questions for God: like how come his nephew had to die in that car accident. A good question. If anything, in my mind, the singer is a little bit too polite to God.
I find myself thinking about the story of a Jewish man in one of Hitler’s death camps. I expect I have some of the details wrong. But as I remember the story, it went something like this:
As he watched so many other prisoners go to their deaths, and as they all lived out the lives they had under such truly wretched conditions, he had a crisis of faith. He declared that he no longer believe in God. How could he believe in a God who allowed such things to happen?
But he kept on saying his prayers. And when he was asked shy he did this, since he no longer believed in God, he replied that he did so because he felt that God must be lonely!

What I want to say this morning is that it’s ok to take anything and everything, all of your stuff, your anger and your doubts and your questions … it’s ok to take it all to God. It’s safe. God won’t get mad. God will not suffer any damage from it. God can handle it.
And, frankly, God already knows what you are thinking anyway! It’s not like you could actually hide this from God.
If you want a real relationship with God, not a pretend relationship with God, you really need to take all your stuff to God. When you start dating someone, you may want to put your best foot forward. You may not want them to know everything about you. But a marriage is built on honesty.
Two people who don’t really know each other can probably not build a healthy marriage. You can’t have a strong, healthy relationship with God if you aren’t honest. You cannot have a faithful relationship with God unless you are willing to make yourself known to God.
The thing about God is you can tell God anything.
God will still be there for you.

I say this to you in the Name of God: Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.

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