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5 Pentecost - Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Perhaps the prophets were so memorable because their voices were so painfully off-key.

Last week, we heard Jeremiah's screech doubts about Hananiah's popular hit, a song of

peace released during good times that Jeremiah knew were not going to last.

This week, we hear from Zechariah, who is equally out of touch and out of tune.

The doom and gloom that Jeremiah had so unpopularly predicted had come true.

God's people spent a generation-plus exiled in a foreign country, then finally returned home ... to a ghost town.

The temple was rubble, the infrastructure was in ruins, the broken streets were full of chaos and confusion and crime, and the economy wobbled like a drunk after midnight.

Immediate prospects for improvement were bleak.

So Zechariah put on his "I Heart 2020" t-shirt and started singing Bobby McFerrin.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!

Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!

Look, your king is pulling up in a 1973 Pinto; triumphant and victorious is he!

Woo-hoo!

Remember the weirdo who called yesterday and said that this year was the best 4th of July ever?

The biblical term for that guy is "prophet."

A woman in my first congregation went through a personal hell for two years.

Her husband died, her son was incarcerated, and her daughter committed suicide.

In the midst of this unthinkable stretch, she went to her pastor, who sounded like a prophet.

He said to her, "Thank God every day."

Twenty years later, she was still doing so, and still thanking her insensitive former pastor too.

His unwelcome, off-key truth had been critical in pulling her through.

You don't need me to tell you that these are bleak and heartbreaking times.

We are choking in a thick smog of grief: from every direction, from every political

perspective, there is some mix of denial and anger and desperate bargaining and sad

resolve because the world is changing too fast, and not changing fast enough, and face

coverings are annoying, and inconvenience feels like an assault on our sacred freedom.

We are losing loved ones and jobs and businesses and opportunities and security and confidence in our country and time with friends and in person worship and far too much of an entire worldview and way of life that many of us have spent countless years and dollars building and believing in ... and there is no relief in sight, and the news only keeps getting worse.

More confirmed cases of the virus.

More restrictions.

More closures.

More questions and less trust in those who give answers.

More division and entrenchment and polarization and gridlock and political venom.

More deaths.

More disillusionment and disgust and despair.

What are we to do?

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!

Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!

Thank God every day.

I do not say this to diminish or dismiss the suffering that is so acute and widespread right now.

I do not say this to minimize or deny very real, legitimate pain or to insult those of us

who are enduring it.

I do not say this to ignore reality or disguise it in naive, Pollyanna positive thinking, and I plead with you not to insult or burden anyone else with artificial cheer.

Life su