Tuesday of Lent II – Jeremiah 26:8-15

And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die! Why have you prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant’?” And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.

10 When the officials of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to the house of the Lord and took their seat in the entry of the New Gate of the house of the Lord. 11 Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, “This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.”

12 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. 13 Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you. 14 But as for me, behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. 15 Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the Lord sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”

In 1662 the vicar of All Saints parish in Sudbury, England was ejected from his post. He had graduated from Pembroke college in Canterbury a few years before that. He was fully credentialed. His congregation liked him. His offense was, in addition to All Saints parish, to preach and serve a community of Puritans in town. One was supposed to take sides in that debate in 1662, but Samuel, the vicar, could only see people, people who needed a preacher. He did not see the sides so much. The Act of Uniformity which decreed that the Puritans were no longer part of the church of England forced Samuel out with them.

Samuel’s situation was not quite as grim as it was for Jeremiah, in the passage for today. Jeremiah narrowly avoided being killed by that mob. Someone remembered another prophet who had said something similar years ago and so they decided not to kill him. He escaped because of a precedent, but only because of that precedent. Samuel had to jump through the hoops of the church of England and by 1665 he was restored to the good graces of the Church of England, and ordained a priest. His considerable preaching skills were recognized and he became a chaplain to the king and died as the dean of Bristol Cathedral.

Samuel’s last name was “Crossman.” He was a poet and with a name like that he almost is required to be a poet of Lenten hymns. He wrote a favorite of mine and perhaps you too, “My Song is Love Unknown.” It is #430 in LSB. If you want to hear it sung you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMart4wXsI0  pay attention to the verse in which they sing about sweet injuries. I think Samuel understood that verse better than most.

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