I first named this post "Getting Stoned for a Sermon" because that's what happened to Jeremiah, but then I realized that anyone who wasn't reading Jeremiah would think that I was making some kind of drug reference and would then be wildly disappointed to just find a Sunday School lesson. This week Jeremiah minces no words in telling the people that their church attendance and worship is a farce. He says that their religion means nothing if it doesn't translate into taking care of widows, orphans, and foreigners in their midst. He set himself against the religious establishment by calling the temple a "den of thieves." Jesus used the quote when he later did the same thing. The people said to Jeremiah, "You shall die!" then they said to each other, "This man deserves the sentence of death." That must've been some sermon. Cooler heads prevailed when they remembered that prophets had a habit of pronouncing doom and after all, he was called by God. They did eventually stone him, but not in Chapter 7.
That part about "foreigners in their midst" or "aliens among them" kept coming back to me because right here in the Bible belt, Alabama just passed the toughest immigration law in American history and it's been in the news almost daily. It's now against the law to give a ride to an illegal immigrant. If you see someone who is hurt and want to take her to a hospital, check her papers first. You know, like the Good Samaritan did. And our public schools which are already operating on a shoestring are now required to verify immigration status even though federal law prevents us from denying a public education to any child. Just what we need, pointless paperwork when we don't have money to teach music, art, or driver's education. So, shouldn't we bring this up at church?
I remember being resentful of international students when I was in graduate school over 20 years ago. Students who wanted to come to