Sonya Brown - October 16, 2022

Have You Any Wool?

Did you know the nursery rhyme 'Ba Ba Black Sheep' was about unfair taxation? That's right - we've been finding ways to protest unjust rulers since the first person exploited someone else. Jeremiah too critiqued the kings and priests who cared only for themselves. He promised a better ruler, a more faithful king was coming. So how does our relationship to Jesus help us spot the faithful leaders - and those who are working against God?

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I used to sing these nursery rhymes to my son. One that we would sing and dance to is, Ring Around the Rosie which is about the 1665 Great Plague in London. 

Do you remember the nursery rhyme, Baa Baa Black Sheep?

Baa, baa, black sheep, Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, Three bags full.
One for the master,
One for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.
Baa, baa, black sheep, Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, Three bags full.”

This sermon series reminded me of that nursery rhyme. I knew that Baa Baa Black Sheep was about taxation on wool. I didn’t really understand the connection of how tax laws hurt the little shepherd boy who lives down the lane. 

The British Broadcasting Corporation or BBC published an article June 2015 titled, “The dark side of nursery rhymes” by Clemency Burton-Hill explains, “Baa Baa Black Sheep is about the medieval wool tax, imposed in the 13th Century by King Edward I. Under the new rules, a third of the cost of a sack of wool went to him, another went to the church and the last to the farmer. (In the original version, nothing was therefore left for the little shepherd boy who lives down the lane).” The king’s tax law further oppressed the people of his kingdom and he has built his kingdom by enacting unjust laws. 

It’s weird how catchy and cute we can make sinister stories by adding a happy melody. Burton-Hill’s article explains how parents unconsciously sing nursery rhymes about the plague, medieval taxes, religious persecution, injuries, and other sinister stories to their small children. 

Burton-Hill explains, “Indeed, in a time when to caricature royalty or politicians was punishable by death, nursery rhymes proved a potent way to smuggle in coded or thinly veiled messages in the guise of children’s entertainment. In largely illiterate societies, the catchy sing-song melodies helped people remember the stories and, crucially, pass them on to the next generation.” 

Dr. Michelle Reyes preached about two years ago about how fairy tales and folklore are real world stories of real issues of hardship, loss, and darkness. These stories resemble what we read in Scripture.

We’ll see today how the figure of speech Jeremiah uses gives a powerful political statement against the powers that be. Jeremiah sticks it to the man by showing how God will act against the unjust political dynasty of the House of David.

Today, we still can relate to how laws can be unjust and further oppress people. We’ve all experienced leaders who hurt rather than heal. And

We all need to hear Jeremiah’s reminder that Jesus not only shows us what a good leader looks like, Jesus is our faithful leader.

Join us Sunday as we learn how Jesus shows us to measure the faithfulness of a leader.

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