Last Sunday I delivered a sermon on the Kingdom of God in a divisive age, focusing on the threefold ministry of Jesus as our Prophet, Priest, and King. Towards the end of the sermon, I shared the thoughts of Romano Guardini who envisioned in 1956 that the modern world would experience a collapse of what it means to be human; of rule by the strong; of a culture that rejects Christianity. In such an age, Guardini believed,
the Old Testament would take on a new significance. The Old Testament reveals the Living God…Who casts down the powers and the pagan rulers of life; it shows us the man of faith who is obedient to the acts of God according to the terms of the Covenant. These Old Testament truths will grow in meaning and import. 1
As I composed my remarks on the Kingdom of God and American politics, I was not only reading theologians like Romano Guardini, I was praying the ACNA Daily Office everyday. It made a profound difference on my thoughts to read Jeremiah with my fellow Anglicans in January and February. I believe Guardini was right that recovering the Old Testament in our time, especially the ministry and message of the prophets, will have new significance for American Christians. This led me to charge our parish to read the Daily Office everyday with special emphasis and attention on the Old Testament.
What’s Happening in Jeremiah?
Then I recognized the need for helping others read Jeremiah. It’s no light reading. The themes and messages are heavy. For good reason Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet.”
But it can be really difficult just to follow the narrative: what’s happening, to whom, when, where, and why. So, I wanted to offer some suggestions and resources about how to read, understand, and meditate on Jeremiah.
If you read the Daily Office, especially Old Testament narratives and prophecies, a good commentary can make a big difference. I recommend John Goldingay’s Jeremiah for Everyone. Goldingay is an Anglican and first-class Old Testament scholar with a pastoral heart. His commentary is inexpensive, it’s written for laypeople, it’s not long, and it’s meant to connect with everyday life.
If you’d like one resource that will be useful for more than one book, I recommend John Goldingay’s A Reader’s Guide to the Bible. This book helps you see each book within the Great Story of Scripture. This book will help you become a better reader of Scripture. It’s also inexpensive and written for a lay audience.
When reading Old Testament narratives and prophecies, visual aids can really help the reader follow the story much better. Faithlife Study Bible , available as an iOS and Android app, is an excellent resource that provides infographics, maps, timelines, and outlines to follow the narrative. The app is free itself; only Bible versions are an extra expense. I recommend purchasing the ESV version for $9.99.
I love Faithlife resources and have often used their media tools teaching our formation hour.
Daily Office Resources
If you own an ACNA Book of Common Prayer (2019), we are following the Daily Office Lectionary readings for Year 2. If you would like to purchase a 2019 Book of Common Prayer, you may purchase one at this link. The free PDF version of the Daily Office liturgies and lectionaries may be found at this site.
A new digital version of the Daily Office makes it easy for you to pray Morning and Evening Prayer from your laptop or device. Daily Office 2019 is currently only a website, but an app is in development. The site is simple and beautiful, requiring very little setup. Once you setup your personal settings, enter the website and begin praying. It’s that simple. And there’s an audio version for the readings, too!
Here’s the one-click settings setup on Daily Office 2019 that we recommend for Apostles. If you have any trouble with the setup, here’s our settings and choices:
- Psalter: 60 Day
- Reading Cycle: Two Year
- Reading Length: Full Reading
- Reading Audio: this is personal choice
- Canticle Rotation: Daily Setting
- Advanced Settings: Use the default site settings
Why We’re Reading Jeremiah
Since January, we’ve been reading Jeremiah, but when we conclude his prophetic book later this month, we’ll begin reading Lamentations, composed by Jeremiah, too. Then the Daily Office progresses to Proverbs later in Lent. Jeremiah declares judgement, then hope, his Lamentations teach us confession and lament, and when you’ve walked through judgment and lament, you’re ready to learn wisdom—Proverbs. Judgment and lament, then wisdom. That’s how we grow deeper in Scripture and the wisdom of God. And it’s how we shine the light of Christ in these divisive times, too.
- Romano Guardini, The End of the Modern World, 107. ↩︎