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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Today’s Reading | Jeremiah 23:3–4

Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord. (NRSV)


In the face of human failure to lead people away from pain and suffering, God boldly promises to intervene in human history and raise up new shepherds that will lead us to peace, security, and prosperity.

Centuries and continents removed from the situation that gave rise to these prophetic words, for those with eyes to see, the suffering of our world is just as palpable for us as it was for the Jewish exiles that first heard these words of hope. Like them, we too wonder who will be the leaders that will bring back the glory days of the past. We too wonder who will lead us to peace in places of simmering conflict and outright war. We too wonder who will have a clear vision of a better future for all and a correspondingly clear strategy for getting us there.

Until those leaders rise, we wait. Like generations before us, we wait.

As Christians, we are tempted to read Jesus into this passage. We are tempted to assume that this was some kind of prediction about the Messiah and be content with it as a beautiful Advent passage of hope. But this promise is about shepherds (plural)—not a shepherd.

Perhaps, some of us hearing these words today are the shepherds God is talking about. Perhaps now is the time for a new intervention. Perhaps now is the time for peace, security, and prosperity for all of God’s people.

Perhaps Advent is not just about waiting. Perhaps it is also about listening for God’s call.


God of bold and mysterious promises, give me eyes to see the suffering of your children and ears to hear your voice calling me—even me!—to lead them home. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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