40FP(17): Jeremiah 20.7-9

7 O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed;
you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughing-stock all day long; everyone mocks me.
8 For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, ‘Violence and destruction!’
For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long.
9 If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name’,
then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones;
I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

Why is this a favourite passage?
Simply because I identify with it so strongly! The English translations tend to minimise the shocking language being used here – I understand that the language is actually that used to describe seduction and rape, a complete overpowering of the person’s own choices. That is certainly how I experienced my own vocation. It becomes a compulsion – a word that must be spoken, that fidgets under the skin until it is released; and then, when it is, the world mocks (and I end up being known as the Vicar who hates Tesco, or – and this is more accurate – the one who is worried about Peak Oil and all that it implies). Which is fair enough, you don’t become a clergyman unless you are prepared to put up with being a figure of ridicule. It just means that passages like this one speak directly to how I experience God and my present condition – and that’s why it’s a favourite passage.