The First Sunday in Advent; Year C (November 29, 2015)
Lessons:Jeremiah 33:14-16 Psalm 25:1-10 (1) 1st Thessalonians 3:9-13 St. Luke 21:25-36
Prayer of the Day: Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
21:25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
St. Luke 21:25-36 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.and to stand before the Son of Man.”
The Days Are Surely Coming
Jeremiah — one of the best known prophets in the Hebrew Bible — lived in Judah from 640 to 587 b.c. He was born in Anathoth, a small village not far from Jerusalem. He belonged to the priestly class, and was very familiar with the religious and political leadership of Judah.
Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry took place during the time when Judah (the southern kingdom) lived in the shadow of three great world powers: Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. In those days, King Josiah led Israel to an alliance with Egypt. Jeremiah was bold in asserting that the only hope for Jerusalem and Judah was if they put their entire trust in God. To rely on any earthly power (even one as great as Egypt) was both unwise and unfaithful. His message was not warmly received (to say the least!), and he was imprisoned by his own people. When Babylon conquered Jerusalem in 587 b.c., they appointed Gedaliah to govern Judah. Jeremiah tried to muster support for him, but an anti-Babylonian group murdered the king, seized Jeremiah, and fled to Egypt. It is assumed that Jeremiah died in exile, while living in Egypt.
His is a story about striving to live faithfully in a complicated and dangerous time. Jeremiah had strong and challenging words to share with Judah, calling them to place God back at the center of their lives again. But many of them had lost confidence in God’s protective power. They sought something more concrete; something more measurable.
Jeremiah’s message was a harsh one, and he wept great tears for the unfaithfulness of the people (for this he is remembered as “The Weeping Prophet”). But he also had a word of hope for them: “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made…” Jeremiah knew that no matter how unfaithful the people became, or how hopeless their situation appeared to be, God would remember this promise. A ruler from the line of David would come, the kingdom would be saved, and God’s people would live in peace again.
This prophet, who lived some 2,700 hundred years ago, has a word for God’s people that is as pertinent today as it was when Jeremiah first spoke out. We too live in a complicated and dangerous time. Many around us have given up on the notion of God’s providence in their lives. A growing number of our contemporaries have come to the conclusion that something more concrete — something more measurable — can serve them better than faith in God.
Perhaps Jeremiah shows us how to remain faithful in such an context. Genuine tears are a good start. Can we love the people around us as much as Jeremiah did? Can we weep at the prospect of them giving up on God’s presence in their lives? Can we offer a ministry to them that is based on a deep, powerful sense of care for their wellbeing?
And then, can we make a personal testimony as to how faith in God gives us hope and peace and joy? Gifts that are lasting, because they come from a God who is and who was and who is to come? If we could, what a great legacy that would be for Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet!
David J. Risendal, Pastor
Exploring This Week’s Gospel:
- Why did Jeremiah urge the people of Judah not to trust in their alliance with Egypt?
- What response did he receive from the people of his day?
- How did his own faith allow him to remain faithful his entire life?
Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:
- In what do the people I know place their ultimate trust?
- When have I been tempted to trust in my government, my retirement savings, or other concrete and measurable sources of security?
- How might my trust in God’s presence grow?