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Monday, January 10, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Jeremiah 31:7–14
For thus says the Lord: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.” See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.” For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord. (NRSV)
God is very much in the business of restoration and always has been. Even the raw creation of the universe could be seen as a sort of restoration by God’s hands, as God transformed a formless void into a locus of lush life and sustainable structure. The Creator rejuvenates the languid, reanimates the faint, and rebuilds the broken.
In today’s passage we see God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah about the people of Israel being restored from a grueling period of exile. The community was scattered and weary after many seasons of disappointment, so these words provided hopeful perspective for the diaspora.
It’s important to nuance that when God restores people in this way, it is not indicative of God changing course or repairing God’s own mistakes. Throughout scripture each new covenant and promise God made was given to reinforce the original call made in Genesis 12:1–3, that Israel would be God’s chosen people and through them the whole world would be renewed. This initial promise set the trajectory of the biblical narrative that was and is still being fulfilled through Jesus Christ.
Every act of God’s renewal is also an act of God keeping promises. Though we as fickle people may drift from our Creator’s intents, our patient and gracious God will always find a way to restore us back into the promises made for our well-being.
God of renewal, thank you for keeping your promises and sticking with us when we lose sight of them. Help me to recognize the ways you are restoring me and my community, and show me how I might participate in your work around me. Amen.
Written by Michael Mirza, Director of Worship
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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