Jeremiah 31:7-9 (NRSV)
Verse 7For 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." Verse 8See, 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. Verse 9With 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.
It’s easy to shout aloud with gladness when things go our way. We see good news posted on Facebook and shared through email all the time. What about when things are not going our way? We don’t shout with gladness then, do we? That is exactly what the prophet calls the people of ancient Israel to do. They were defeated and dispersed in foreign lands, a physical and emotional exile. Yet the prophet called them to shout with gladness because God was going to lead them back. This was a call to faithful action and trust. In the midst of their suffering, the people were called to act, praising God and trusting that God would save them. And God did! God made a way for them to return home. We too experience many forms of exile. Through them all, God calls us to faithful action and continually offers to lead us home.
“Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that thou art: thou my best thought both by day and by night, waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.” In the name of our Triune God. Amen. (Text: Irish, 8th cent)