828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Christian formation for October 20 - Jeremiah 31:27-34; Individual Retribution

October 20, 2013 – 22 Pentecost
Jeremiah 31:27-34
Individual Retribution
Background: The book of Jeremiah is fairly unique as it provides commentary and criticism of the Israelites during two periods of subjugation interspersed with a period of religious reform. Jeremiah is a descendent of the Levitical priestly line and was a descendant of Abiathar. Jeremiah was a supporter of adherence to the law and covenant relationship over the practice of temple worship. This portion of Jeremiah (Chapters 30-31) is part of an independent unit often called the book of consolation.
Theme: This passage picks up on the theme of restoration begun in Chapter 29 (last week’s reading). In this passage Jeremiah tries to assure the Israelites that there will be a new order and covenant between God and humanity and that God will enact the covenant once Israel has been restored to the Promised Land. Jeremiah relates some astounding items about God’s new relationship with Israel and humanity.
Questions to Ponder:
* Read Jeremiah 31:27-34.
* Describe the political, social, and religious setting for this passage.
* Why might the two sections, verses 27-30 and verses 31-34, both start, “The days are surely coming, says the Lord.”? Why might God use that ambiguous term for God’s promised restoration?
* What might the imagery of planting the seed of humans and animals evoke to the Israelites?
* From what source would the people claim in verse 29b, “The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”? What might that proclamation be referring to?
* What do you believe is the promise given in verse 30, “But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes will be set on edge.”?
* Why do you think God was willing to make a new covenant with the Israelites?
* What do you think the old covenant God was rescinding was?
* What do you think the new covenant God created was?
* Do you think the new covenant was really appreciably different than the old covenant? Why or why not?
* Do you think God really believed Israel would keep a new covenant given they were unable to keep the original one? Why might the Israelites be able to keep the new covenant, at least according to God’s command?
* Conventional wisdom (think about the reading from 2 Timothy today) says people need to be taught so they can be truly informed about the requirements of the law. Yet this passage seems to say that God’s “new” law will be so pervasive (and persuasive) that people will not need to be taught about the finer points because God has planted the law so deeply inside humanity they have no choice but to follow. How do you reconcile the apparent difference between the passages?
* What do you sense is the message of hope for Israel – those in exile and those who are at home?
* What might the message of hope be for those who follow after the exiles?
* How do we embody the message of hope given in this passage today?
* How does God challenge your understanding of your personal relationship with God in this passage?

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