“Go to your room and think about what you’ve done!” I swore I would never say these words to my own children. I was wrong. I know that there are times when that is exactly what is needed. A little time. A little space. A little bit of reflection on what has happened. To the writer of Baruch, this is the role of the exile. It is a chance for the people to find themselves again and to no longer take their relationship with God for granted.
Purported to be written by Jeremiah’s scribe during the Babyolonian exile, the book of Baruch is an Apocryphal book that is seldom read or referred to in churches today. This does not, however, strip it of its value to the modern Christian. It is a book of confession. It takes seriously the role that Judah had in its own demise.
This prayer of confession is laden with a heavy dose of self-awareness. There is no blaming of God. There is no stomping off in a temper-tantrum, slamming the door and refusing to come out. Exile is not the end of the relationship. It is God’s last ditch effort to save the relationship. Even God knows “But in the land of their exile they will come to themselves and know that I am the Lord their God. I will give them a heart that obeys and ears that hear.“ If only we could use all of our own self-inflicted exiles for such a time of reflection and healing.
This is a prayer of Confession based on Baruch 1:15-20, “The Lord our God is in the right, but there is open shame on us today because we have sinned before the Lord. We have disobeyed God, and have not heeded the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in the statutes of the Lord that he set before us. From the time when the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until today, we have been disobedient to the Lord our God, and we have been negligent, in not heeding his voice.”
Robb McCoy is the pastor of Two Rivers United Methodist Church in Rock Island, Illinois; and the co-producer of the Pulpit Fiction Podcasts and Pulpit Fiction Narrative Cast: two lectionary Bible studies for preachers, seekers, and Bible geeks.
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