“For thus says the Lord: Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament or grieve for them, for I have taken away my peace from this people, my steadfast love and mercy, declares the Lord. Both great and small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried, and no one shall lament for them or cut himself or make himself bald for them. No one shall break bread for the mourner, to comfort him for the dead, nor shall anyone give him the cup of consolation to drink for his father or his mother. You shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will silence in this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.
“And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?’ then you shall say to them: ‘Because your fathers have forsaken me, declares the Lord, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law, and because you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, every one of you follows his stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me. Therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’” Jeremiah 16:5-13
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:33-34 ESV
There are two things that bring people together–funerals and weddings. We often think of a funeral as a sad and serious thing, but in New Orleans some people have jazz funerals. A band plays sad music while the body is carried to the graveyard, and many people follow it in a solemn parade. After the body is buried, the parade continues, but now the music becomes lively, and the people dance to it. This helps them dance out their sadness and celebrate the life of the person who has died. Some weddings in India have an interesting custom. When the bride and groom go into the place where they will get married, they have to take their shoes off. The bride’s sisters steal the groom’s shoes and hide them, and the groom’s brothers and cousins try to find the shoes. If they can’t find them, they have to pay gold and silver rings and money to get the shoes back!
Funerals and weddings are times when people get together to share sorrow and joy with each other. But as the judgment of the southern kingdom came closer, the Lord told his prophet Jeremiah to stay away from funerals and weddings. The time would soon come when there would be so much disaster and death that there wouldn’t be time to have a funeral for everyone who died, and such terrible times that there wouldn’t be any happy wedding celebrations. When the people saw that Jeremiah stayed away from their important occasions, they would ask him why, and he would tell them words of God’s judgment. The Lord loved his people and wanted to be part of their times of joy and sorrow, but they had turned away from him and worshiped false gods and not followed God’s law. The Lord was turning away from his people because they had turned away from him, and Jeremiah was a picture of God no longer being close to them and part of their lives.
We have also turned away from God and gone our own way, but God sent his only Son Jesus to pay the price for our sins and to bring us back to our Heavenly Father. When Jesus hung on the cross, his Heavenly Father turned away from him, and he was alone with the sins of the world. There was no one who could help him or share his burden. The sky became dark in the middle of the day, and he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But because Jesus was alone with our sins, we never have to be alone. God will never turn away from us, but will be with us always, sharing in our times of sorrow and our times of joy.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and forgiving us and for never leaving us. Please be with us in our happy days and our sad days. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.