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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Jeremiah 30:1–9           

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. For the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their ancestors and they shall take possession of it. These are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah: Thus says the Lord: We have heard a cry of panic, of terror, and no peace. Ask now, and see, can a man bear a child? Why then do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor? Why has every face turned pale? Alas! that day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be rescued from it. On that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will break the yoke from off his neck, and I will burst his bonds, and strangers shall no more make a servant of him. But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. (NRSV)

“We have heard a cry of panic, of terror, and no peace.” So begins the prophecy that Jeremiah is to share with Israel and Judah in a time of exile—words that could just as easily come from any number of contexts around our world today. We only need to turn on the news, check our phones, or see the headlines to be exposed to cries of panic, terror, and no peace. They are as real as they were in Jeremiah’s day, when Babylon was ripping Jeremiah’s people from their homeland, carrying them into servitude or worse, and leaving them with an unknown future.

In this season of Eastertide, one in which we celebrate the ability of life to come even out of death, this passage reminds us that—even in the midst of the cries of our world—God seeks not only to be present with God’s people but to transform them and their reality. These sorts of “life from death” messages often run head on into our cynicism and doubt, much as I imagine they did for Jeremiah’s audience, but if our faith and hope is that God can indeed transform our world, then perhaps the best place for us to begin participating in that effort is to ask that God transform our own hearts.

If we are to live as a people of the resurrection—”Easter people in a Good Friday world”—then God’s promises must be written deep within us and our stories. So may these promises—from the prophecy of Jeremiah to the love of Jesus—be etched on each of us, and may they challenge each of us to be part of God’s answer to the world’s cries.

Holy God, may your promises indeed be written deep within my heart—and may your promises guide me to care and serve for all of your people. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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