Friday, 22 December 2023 The Rev’d Martin Knight

Friday, 22 December 2023
O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

Jeremiah 10: 6 – 10

There is none like you, O Lord;
    you are great, and your name is great in might.
Who would not fear you, O King of the nations?
    For that is your due;
among all the wise ones of the nations
    and in all their kingdoms
    there is no one like you.
They are both stupid and foolish;
    the instruction given by idols
    is no better than wood!
Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,
    and gold from Uphaz.
They are the work of the artisan and of the hands of the goldsmith;
    their clothing is blue and purple;
    they are all the product of skilled workers.
But the Lord is the true God;
    he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
    and the nations cannot endure his indignation.

Reflection

Quite a chunk of this passage focuses on the idols. What they are made of, where the materials come from, who makes them, how gaudy the colours are, and what a waste of skilled talent?! This sarcasm and derision of human-made idols is in stark contrast to the praise of the true God of all nations.

We might imagine these idols in our minds in all their bright beauty – and perhaps see something that doesn’t look dissimilar to the religious statues and stained glass that we are familiar with. We might appreciate such amazing craft, but it is a different step to bow down in worship of them.

 

We put huge effort into recreating and maintaining this particular idol; using skilled minds and ingenuity that could be used for building God’s community.

What else might we name?

Ever increasing profits and growth, environmental damage, celebrity for its own sake, the desire for power, thinking we can own the land, and the encouraged greed made a virtue at this time of year?

These and many other idols are worthy of mockery, giving space for all the skill and effort God gives us to be refocused on justice, loving mercy and peace for God’s people.

God, through Jeremiah asks us…

What is of value in our society?

What should we praise and rejoice in?

What should we mock, dismantle and refashion the clay?

As we prepare to welcome the Christ Child, born into this mess, we open ourselves to the joy of his arrival and the challenge of the word.

Prayer

Loving God, you are worthy of all our praise.
We pray for the strength to be holy anarchists1 :
naming the idols around us
and being prepared to tear them down
when they harm us and all your people.
May your Spirit teach us what to raise-up instead.  Amen

 

1 Graham Adams, ‘Holy Anarchy’ (SMP Press, 2022)

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Martin Knight is minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon and South Croydon United Church (Methodist/URC)

 

 

 

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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