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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

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Lectionary Reflection

Year C, Epiphany 6 Revised Common Lectionary Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Lesson

Jeremiah 17:5-10

Thus says the LORD:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
and make mere flesh their strength,
whose hearts turn away from the LORD.
They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed are those who trust in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.
The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse
who can understand it?
I the LORD test the mind
and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
according to the fruit of their doings.

Reflection on Jeremiah 17:5-10 by the Rev Wanda Copeland

For those who have ever seen the 'desert' or wilderness east of Jerusalem toward Jericho and the Dead Sea, you know it to be one of the most forbidding places on earth. Except for a short period of time in the early spring when moisture gives it a slight green patina, that desert seems like it could easily be devoid of life. It is this land that Jeremiah brings to mind: "the parched places of the wilderness". (v. 6) Anyone who has ever traveled there knows the danger of putting one's faith in the land to sustain them. Life is very tenuous, there is no margin for error. It seems so obvious because the trees know it, the grass knows it, the shrubs know it. The desert is no place to live. Instead they cling to the borders of wadis, to the edges of waterholes where infrequent streams of water come bubbling graciously out of the earth to bring life.

An oasis is just that: a place where" plants grow and travelers can replenish water supplies". It is also a place of life for birds, insects, water bugs. It is life-giving for the desert animals, the fox, the hare and mice. The oasis is not just a place where humans come to retrieve water, where desert travelers can find respite. It is a sanctuary where many forms of life can co-exist and can nurture each other.

All forms of life that come to this haven are totally dependent on the grace of God to provide life-sustaining 'juice'. They know they fall on the mercy of God's richness, and they live in relationship with each other around that core fact. Their ecosystem is complete because of the fact that 'God provides.' When will we humans learn that we too are ultimately dependent on God's great mercy. And God's great mercy is not just found in the redemption of our souls, but in the partnership with have with our fellow created partners from God's great store of goodness. We are but one small part of the wheel of life that is creation. We are not the ones who are responsible for creating all that is. It is only our humble good fortune to be part of a spoke in the wheel that keeps it turning.

Copyright Statement

To Reflections on other RCL and Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary Readings for Year C, Epiphany 6:

Old Testament Jeremiah 17:5-10
this page
Psalm 1
no reflection available

New Testament 1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Gospel Luke 6:17-26
no reflection available

The Rev Wanda Copeland was the second chair of MEESC (1997-2001), Chair (2001-2004) and Co-Chair (since 2006) of the Episcopal Ecological Network. She resided in Ramsey, MN, when she originally wrote this reflection in 2007. Wanda and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to the Rev Wanda Copeland or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

MEESC c/o C. Morello 4451 Lakeside Drive Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.

This page last updated 2007-01-15.

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