This four-part study of the book of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah finished up on February 24th. At that time, we were certainly aware that the COVID-19 virus was having a serious impact in China and other parts of the world, but its influence on daily life in the United States had not yet struck home. In the past few days and weeks, our lives have altered radically as fear, uncertainty and constantly changing norms have come to dominate our waking moments.
The book of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah were written about even more unsettling times – a time of exile into Babylon (597 – 586 b.c.e.), loss of home and life, and even a sense of estrangement from God as the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed along with much of the city. The original readers of these works, however, were not those exiles of the early sixth century, but lived in yet another, later time of loss, fear, and great uncertainty. Perhaps today, in our own current crisis, we can better identify with those people for whom these works were written.
– Charlie Walden (March 23, 2020)