Zephaniah 3:14–20 (NRSV)
Verse 14Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! Verse 15The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. Verse 16On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. Verse 17The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing Verse 18as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. Verse 19I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. Verse 20At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.
Zephaniah’s prophecy reminds us, as the hearers of this strong word, that in our brokenness and disgrace God comes with judgement to save the vulnerable, to remove shame from those we have turned out. Though the words of the prophet may sound harsh at first, they are first of all an invitation to exultation and joy. For they are a reminder that God calls us into love, and while we may turn away from that love in our sinfulness, God never turns away from us. We can—even now—trust God’s promise and turn in renewal towards our relationship with God.
Mothering God, remind us of the strong bonds you have created in us. Show us how we are intimately connected, one to each other, and draw us into your love and peace. Breathe into us your love and hope, help us to breathe out all that draws us into sin. Amen.