Today’s Readings: Psalm 76:7-12; Jeremiah 30:23–31:6; Romans 7:14-25; John 8:34-36
A Reflection from the Rev. Phoebe A. Roaf, Rector, St. Philip’s, Richmond
The people of Judah were forced into exile in Egypt by the Babylonians in the sixth century BC. During this difficult period, the prophet Jeremiah is instructed to tell the people that their failure to obey God’s commandments caused their predicament. They had no one to blame but themselves for their condition. However, Jeremiah’s message involves more than just condemnation. In Jeremiah 31:3, he reminds those who have survived that the Lord loves them with an everlasting love and remains faithful in spite of their sinfulness. After such a difficult experience, I imagine the people needed a word of encouragement from the Lord.
Advent is the season where God’s people await the coming of Christ in the form of an infant. We are called to wait, to watch and to prepare our hearts to receive the gift of Christ. This reading from Jeremiah reminds us that in the midst of our individual and collective sinfulness, God’s love is steadfast and God remains faithful. Like the people of Judah, we may become discouraged at times by our circumstances. Perhaps we are experiencing our own private exile due to our choices or the decisions of others. This time of year is especially difficult for those who suffer given all of the media images of happy families preparing for the holiday season.
In the midst of the messiness and uncertainty of our lives, as people of faith we are called to trust in the light which ultimately overcomes the darkness. God’s love for all of God’s creation never ends, and Christ’s incarnation is just one manifestation of this amazing love. We anxiously long for the coming of Christ secure in the knowledge that God’s faithfulness can never be shaken. During the season of Advent, take a moment to reflect on the power of God’s love and the many blessings you have already received from the Prince of Peace. May you have a sense of God’s abiding presence as you wait upon the Lord.