Poets, pop songs and post cards.

Signpost for Sunday 6 Oct 2013: Lam 1:1-6; Ps 137; 2 Tim 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10

Psalm 137 went to number one in the UK charts in 1978, courtesy of Boney M. In fact, it’s the only psalm to become one of the top ten all-time best-selling singles in the UK. And almost certainly the only pop song to contain a curse (verse 8- 9) on a whole nation.

It’s all about the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon in 586 BCE of course, and Lamentations 1:1-6 is a poem about the very same thing. It’s actually an ancient acrostic poem where the first line begins with the first letter of the alphabet, the second with the second letter, and so on, corresponding to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Very clever, but no-one seems to know why the poet used this form and whether it has any significance beyond the fact that he was a very good poet indeed. And, as Brye has often reminded us, he would have been scratching on a piece of dried leather or fragile papyrus without the aid of ‘cut and paste’ which makes it all the more impressive. Whoever he was, though, he almost certainly wasn’t Jeremiah.

But I’ve been struggling to work out why the reading this week are grouped together. Here’s the only one I can suggest. The ancient Jews end up in Babylon not because they didn’t have much faith but because they put their faith in something other than YHWH. So when we time travel forward to the first century and find the story of mustard seeds and little faith (Luke 17:5-10) I wonder if Jesus isn’t suggesting the disciples need more faith in response to their request in verse 5. Maybe it’s not about how much faith you have, it about what you have faith in. So Jesus may be saying that if they have faith in God they have faith in a being/force/power that can do anything. If so, isn’t that exactly what’s echoed in the post card to Tim (2 Timothy 1:9)? I’d be interested to know what you think.

In the meantime, “Hi-di-hi-di-hi” if you remember the song.

Paul

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