By Rev. Beth Bostrom
Roseland United Methodist ChurchSebastian, Florida
First, read Jeremiah 33:14-16
Moving into the season of Advent, we find our time over-filled. We commit to hosting family gatherings, attending special activities, taking white elephant gifts to parties, and volunteering at church events. We promise to be present in lots of different places. We hope to experience the wonder of Christ’s birth somehow through the hustle and bustle. And yet, we know that busy-ness is not the same as faithfulness.
As we look toward Christmas and think through what we promise to ourselves and others, we also remember many of God’s promises. Here in Jeremiah, God has promised restoration for Israel and Judah. God has promised that Jerusalem will be rebuilt.
Jeremiah has been proclaiming God’s judgment on Israel and Judah because of their disobedience and unfaithfulness, and yet God promises to restore them.
God’s promise extends beyond the ability of human individuals and groups to fulfill their end of the bargain. And so we have hope that God will restore us when we are imperfect and at fault.
In our Advent preparations, we also remember the promise of God to remain with us, embodied in the birth of Christ. One of the names of Jesus is Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”
In Romans 8, Paul reminds us of one of God’s promises — that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. This love is coming, like it or not, into our world. Nothing we do and nothing that is done to us can separate us from that love. But we do have a chance to live into that love instead of ignoring it, fighting it, or filling our time with other distractions.
Great God of Love, help us to pause in this season, to remember your simple promise to always be with us. Remind us that we do not earn your love by being good enough or busy enough. Help us to share the joy of your presence, Emmanuel, God with us, so that others would also know that they are not alone and that they are loved. Amen.
1) What does it mean to expect God’s restoration?
2) How can we live into Christ’s love this Advent season?
3) Who else needs to hear this message of reconciliation, restoration, and unconditional love bursting into our world and our lives?