Hosea had a son. He named him Jezreel. Jezreel means “God Plants”. What does it mean to be planted by God? I’ve moved from Oswego back to Binghamton to be a part of a church that God is planting. Pastor Will has moved here with his young family. Others have come from around the country. Some that have joined us already live here but will be leaving churches they love and that love them to join in the church that God is planting. Why would they do that? Why would I do that?
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Some time later Hosea’s wife had a daughter. It wasn’t his child and he named it Lo-Ruhamah. Not loved. Can you imagine growing up with that as your name? Back in those days your name was your identity. These days she might be named Joy, Precious, Sarah (princess), or Amy (loved) but her identity might still be “unloved”. There are over 2,200 single parent families in Binghamton. How many children have lasting memories of daddy driving away never to return? How many others have no memories because daddy skipped town as soon as he found out he had knocked up mommy? There are thousands of children right here who have been told by at least one of their parent’s actions, “Lo-Ruhamah. You are not loved.”
Beyond the children, how many parents feel unloved carrying the burden of being abandoned? How many feel isolated while their friends go out again but they can’t because their life revolves around working multiple jobs while trying to raise multiple children? How many husbands spend hours on end at the bar to avoid coming home to a nagging wife who no longer loves them? How many people look perfectly normal when they smile and say “hi” but desperately wish that somebody would be able to see past their smile to the emptiness inside?
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Hosea’s wife slept around on him again. This time she gave birth to a boy. Hosea named him Lo-Ammi. “Not my people” or “Not my child”. Augustine said that God is our Father and the Church is our mother. How many people feel orphaned by both? How many feel as if both these “parents” want nothing to do with them? Isn’t that what they are saying when people make comments like, “If I step foot inside that church, the roof will cave in”? How many have been hurt by people in the church and blamed it on God? How many gave the church a chance and felt awkward and uncomfortable when they went to visit? When we sing, “Are you washed in the blood” are they thinking, “Oh no, the zombie apocolypse is upon us”?
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So what does it mean to be planted by God? What does it mean to be Jezreel? When you turn the chapter in Hosea’s story, you hear him speaking to his firstborn son. He tells him to call his brother “my people” and his sister “loved one”. That is what it means to be planted by God.
Two Rivers Assembly is here for the disconnected and unloved. We are here to be a church for those that just don’t like church and who feel that the church doesn’t like them. We are here to tell the broken, the hurting, and the unloved that God loves them and so do we. But we don’t just want to say it, we are here to show with our actions that we will do everything in our power to demonstrate that love.
That is why we are here. The journey we are beginning together won’t be an easy one and we will not accomplish our goals overnight. It is going to take time. It is going to take money. It is going to take lots and lots of prayer. But the journey is worth it. Are you willing to walk down this road with us?
“What a day that will be – the day of Jezreel – when God will again plant His people in His land. In that day you will say to your brothers Ammi – ‘my people’. And you will say to your sisters Ruhamah – ‘the ones I love’.” Hosea 1:11-2:1