Tuesday: Psalm 109; Jeremiah 35:1-19; John 21:1-25

From: Charlie Glenn

Today’s psalm is one of those all-too-human outbursts with which we can easily identify, while the glowing account of the resurrected Christ and Peter talking over a lakeside fish fry could not be read and prayed over too often. I want to focus, however, on the strange little story in Jeremiah, of the prophet’s tempting of the Rechabites.

Jeremiah brings this nomadic family group—then refugees in Jerusalem—into the Temple and offers them wine; they refuse, explaining that their ancestor commanded them that “Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents.” God, through the prophet, commends their faithful obedience as a rebuke to the faithlessness of “the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem.”

What’s going on here? Elsewhere Jeremiah and other prophets speak very favorably of wine and of vineyards; indeed, both are favorite images of the joy that God intends for his people. Planting a vineyard is the first thing Noah did after the flood; Jesus refers to himself as a vine and his disciples as the grapes. At the Last Supper, he promises his disciples that they will drink wine with him in his Father’s kingdom (Mt. 26:29). So we should not take this as a general ascetic requirement. Indeed, Scripture praises “wine that gladdens human hearts” (Ps. 104:15).

Instead, we should take this story as a reminder that obedience to God’s calling takes many different forms and celebrate all who respond faithfully to their particular calling, even if it is very different from what we believe he is asking of us. Forms of worship, modes and spheres of service, life-disciplines vary greatly; essential is our kinship with all those who respond in faith to God’s gracious call to them. They are our sisters and brothers in Christ.

God has blessed this old geezer with seven children (and their loved ones), nine grandchildren, and a wife who  is a daily reminder of God’s loving care.