“Oh God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come…” If you were reared in a mainline Protestant church, you are probably familiar with this hymn. The lyrics are based on Psalm 90 and were written in the 18th Century. The melody is a bit lugubrious in my opinion, and I had never given the words much thought until they suddenly popped into my consciousness while reading this Sunday’s lectionary assignments.
The present learning unit in some of the curriculum we use is entitled Remembering Tomorrow. We have, and will continue to spend a lot of time with Jeremiah’s prophecies, which exquisitely sing and groan the hopes of the God of love. This week, all of the readings demonstrate humanity’s ongoing resistance to trust in God’s promises of the past, and hope for God’s presence in the future, to allow ourselves to be present to God in the present.
For children, this may sound much too abstract and convoluted. We hope to help them enter in from where they are. Jeremiah’s actions from prison, hold a key. Imagine how baffled people were when Jeremiah accepted a deal to buy property that his cousin was trying to dump because everyone knew that they were all about to be captured and exiled from it, including Jeremiah. Did he have some insider information? You could call it that.
Jeremiah embraced this shady deal as a sign of grace, that God would be with them in exile as well as in their return to God and their land – seventy years later. He remembered tomorrow and our faith leads us to do the same today!