Second Sunday after Christmas, Year B, Old Testament
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:7-14
This week, the passage from Jeremiah has a similar theme to last week’s Isaiah reading: that of the people returning home after their exile. This theme of exile and returning is prevalent in scripture – especially in the books of the Old Testament. Exile and returning is a theme to which many people can relate. Whether it is a memory of a physical exile (returning home after evacuation for a storm) or metaphorical exile (where we return to the person we know ourselves to be; as the lyrics of Amazing Grace remind us, “I once was lost but now am found”) exile is an experience that many have in their walk with God. In this passage from the prophet Jeremiah we hear promises from God of the way things are promised to be now that the people are coming home. Sorrows turning to joy, emptiness turning to bounty, weeping met with consolation – God promises to redeem the experience of God’s people. This passage relates to our celebration of Christmas because we are receiving the promised savior, just as the people Israel have received their promised homecoming. This passage allows us to be honest with ourselves about who and what we are at Christmas – rather than the Rockwell-esk perfection, we can have our messy whole lives and trust that God is redeeming all of it in the person of Christ. The people of Israel were not perfect, yet they were restored to their homeland. Modern children are pushed harder than ever towards performance and perfection – this redemptive text breaks into that push towards glory and tells them they are already received and redeemed by God – just as they are.