In Jeremiah 29, God has a word to the people who have been exiled from Jerusalem in Babylon:
“Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce … seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (vv. 4-7).
For the past six months, it’s felt to many as if we’re in exile—a period of estrangement from one another, spurred on by the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, our sense of normalcy disrupted, our cities and communities cracking beneath the strain.
It would be easy to grit our teeth and attempt to wait it out, but I wonder how this word from Jeremiah may speak to us in our current moment.
The Israelites were commanded not to sit around and wait for things to go back to normal, but to find a new normal—to build houses, plant gardens, and in prayer, seek the welfare of those around them.
Perhaps God is calling us to prayerfully seek the welfare of others in the midst of distress.
Here at Luther Seminary, nothing looks the same as it did before this once-in-a-century crisis struck. Campus is nearly empty. Students, faculty, and staff no longer gather together in person, yet God continues to call us to prayer and to live into our mission and vision.
We’ve filled every available spot for new students who are joining us this fall and have a significant waiting list as we lean on the groundbreaking work we’ve done for nearly two decades as a pioneer in distributed theological education.
Our digital resource for Christian leaders, Faith+Lead, is reaching tens of thousands of leaders each month, with courses filling to capacity as leaders learn together how to deepen relationships and build community in innovative and faithful ways that these disruptive times invite.
Our community continues to worship with beautiful digital liturgies available in podcast form, so that those within and beyond the seminary community can pray together wherever they are.
I invite you to be in prayer to discern where God might be calling you to find your new normal. What is the equivalent of building a home, planting a garden, or seeking the welfare of your neighbors in your life?
May God be with you as you discover the life to which God is calling you right here, right now.
Grace and peace,
Robin J. Steinke, President