11th May, 2021. St. John the Evangelist, Smiths Falls.
The Reverend Canon Brian Burrows
Text: Jer. 33:3 NRSV: “Call to me, and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”
This text is usually quoted on the subject of Prayer. Just as we use the phone to communicate with one another, so also we can see the prophet urging us to make contact with God. We call; God answers! In thinking about Jeremiah's words, I wondered what exactly are “the great and hidden things” we know nothing about? Three words suddenly came into my mind – wholeness, holiness and healing!
Jeremiah writes at a time of brokenness in the life of his people. There is the very real threat of war and of being conquered by a foreign power. Treaties are broken, leadership is lacking and ordinary life is shattered.
“Call to me and I will answer you,” is the prophet's response. If we try to apply this to our own times, I believe there is help available. We also know about broken promises, broken peace treaties, broken marriages and broken hearts. The Almighty can mend the broken- hearted. God is at one with us and calls us to be at one with him. The Lord wants to make us whole, in body, mind and Spirit.
One of the things that God promises us is deeper even than wholeness – it is holiness! To accept God's promise, takes us into the very nature of God – the Lord's holiness.
Another prophet, Ezekiel had a vision of this state of holiness. To recapture the wholeness of Israel's religious life and fellowship with God, he set out the dimensions of the Lord's Temple, even though, in fact, it was in ruins! In passages, which I find uninspiring, he measured the height, length and breadth of the Temple. But, we may ask, is God's holiness in a building, even if decorated with palm trees and winged creatures? Is holiness found in the priests who serve in the sacred place? No, holiness is found in the presence of God. To be holy, or to be whole is to be close to God!
We would say that this can be done only through Jesus the Son of God. 1 Peter 1:16,”You shall be holy, for I am holy.” So, we call God to mend our brokenness, to make us whole, to be holy as God is holy. How is this possible?
The God who is holy is also merciful – a forgiving God, a God of love and compassion. Ezekiel concludes his vision of the Temple with the aspect of water from beneath the threshold of the Temple flowing to the land and its people. The water gains strength and becomes deeper. It brings healing and forgiveness. It brings new life and new hope to the land and its people.
Christians believe that the waters of Baptism also bring such healing – that believers may be made whole, that they may be made holy and receive forgiveness of their sins. This is the promise of new life open to all to receive in faith.
Such great and wonderful things come not from us, but from God – the God whose faithfulness and love never fail. Open your hearts, “Call unto me, and I will answer you,” says the Lord.