Sunday, November 29, 2015

Promises Fulfilled -- Advent 1C

14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”   [Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NRSV)]

Since I'm not preaching this morning, I thought I might share a brief reflection on the reading from the Hebrew Bible. It is a word from Jeremiah to exiles, who worry about their future.

We all want to live lives that are safe and secure. It's true there are those who push the boundaries of safety, but even climbers and skydivers try to make sure that there actions are relatively safe. There is a thrill of defying the odds, but it's a good chance one will survive.  In daily life, however, we like security. We lock our doors. We wear our seat belts while driving, Many of us buy life insurance, just to be safe. 

Jeremiah writes to members of the Jewish community living in exile. He tells them that the days are coming when God will fulfill the promises made to the people. There will be a day when the people will be saved and safe, for "the Lord is our righteousness." We live in a dangerous world. We know about the dangers of living in places like Syria and Iraq. After all millions are fleeing the region. But a gunman in Colorado Springs reminds us that our safety can be challenged at home. More often than not the threat comes not from outside our communities, but within. Indeed, much of the violence perpetrated in this country is found within the family structure. Domestic violence makes the home less than safe. Diana Butler Bass writes:

Home is a vulnerable space, offering possibilities of care and tenderness to be sure, but also an open pathway for those who choose to make psychological, emotional, or physical advantage. Indeed, home-centered violence can be so destructive that some social scientists refer to it as "intimate terrorism." [Grounded, p. 177] 
Ancient Judah experienced the violence of exile. They had lost everything. They could easily lost hope, but Jeremiah tells them to hang on. The days are coming when God will act in fulfillment to promises made. We need to stand against violence in all its forms. We need stand with those who are confronted by such violence, for the Lord is our righteousness. 

May we take this Advent journey with an eye and ear toward those who live with the threat of violence and hopelessness. May we be agents of grace and hope to them in this season of joy, so that a sense of security might cover them.   

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