In the Book of Jeremiah, we discover the prophet making an investment in the future of Judah despite the fact that the Babylonians are at the gates of Jerusalem. Jeremiah, in front of King Zedekiah and others who most likely questioned the prophet’s sanity, purchases property from his cousin in the village of Anathoth. Was this the worst real estate deal in history? Perhaps. But verse 15 of this particular passage shares something that this was more than a mere acquisition of property, rather this was a prophetic action:
“For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.”
In a dysfunctional world of despair and violence, we wonder what a difference that we can make. Recently, Carilion Giles Community Hospital launched efforts to assess the well-being of Giles County residents. Their final report shares tells the story of great need. The median household income in Giles County is $45,141, nearly $20,000 less than the state median household income. Around 35% of Giles County residents live below 200% of the federal poverty level. Accordingly, a disproportionate number of children under 6 years of age, 60% to be exact, live below 200% of the FPL. Nearly 45% of the students enrolled in the Giles County Public School System qualify for free or reduced priced school lunch with 15% of them dropping out of school before earning their high school diploma (nearly twice the Virginia state average!). There is so much need.
Where can hope and possibility for the future be found?
Once Jeremiah completes his land deal, he has Baruch secure the deeds to his property in sealed jars so that they may be preserved for the future, a symbol of hope that God will indeed offer blessing to the people and bring them home from exile. Perhaps, each meal that is shared through the Newport Cares Backpack Program, or financial gift made to the Giles County Christian Service Mission, or package of diapers distributed through the Giles County Baby Store, or family housed in the Giles County Emergency Shelter (The Hope House) is not merely just an act of mercy, but also a prophetic act that reveals the light and hope of God working in and through the church to bring good news to the poor, the addicted, and those pushed aside to the margins. As Mother Teresa was apt to say:
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”