A Lent Reflection for Wednesday, March 29th
By Pastor Katherine Mayer
Lectionary reading: Psalm 143; Jeremiah 32:1-9, 36-41; Matthew 22:23-33
Selected passage: Jeremiah 32:36-41
Jeremiah 32: 36-41 (NRSV)
You are saying about this city, ‘By the sword, famine and plague it will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon’; but this is what the LORD, the God of Israel says: I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all their heart and soul’.
As I read the passage I had three things stick out to me: God’s redemption, promise and faithfulness. All three can be found in the story of Israel, but they can also be found in our story.
God is telling Jeremiah that He will bring the people of Israel back to the land He promised them. He is going to gather them from all of the places they were driven to and bring them back together again. They will no longer be in captivity. They will no longer be separated from one another. They will no longer be refugees and nomads, they will be home. They will be redeemed. This land that was taken from them will become a place of safety. It will be a place where they can dwell and make new memories. Just like Israel, there are times in our life where God brings us back and we are redeemed. What once was old is made new. New life is breathed into old dreams, past memories are redeemed and used for God’s glory. We are brought back to a place where God can redeem what once was.
In this redemptive love seen in Jeremiah, we also see God’s promise. God promises Israel that they will be brought back to the land that they once called home. Keep in mind that some generations here have never seen this land, yet He promises them that they will live there in safety. Every promise that God has made Israel is wrapped up in this one promise: “They shall be my people, and I will be their God”. This promise holds the redemption that the people of Israel experience time and time again. It is a promise for us also. We are God’s people and He is our God. He offered us the greatest act of redemptive love when He sent Jesus. As Jesus gave up His life for us, we are promised and marked just as Israel was. We are marked with the promise that we are God’s people and He is our God. This promise is a redemptive love that brings about transformation. When we experience God’s redemption we are transformed. The people of Israel were marked by God and they were transformed each time they experienced His redemption, and the same happens for us. We are transformed by the redemption that God gave us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Lastly, God is consistently faithful to Israel. Throughout their story you see the same cycle repeated generation after generation. They have moments when they live in freedom communing with God and then there are moments in captivity, where the people of Israel are crying out for God to rescue them. The beauty is that God is always with them. No matter how far they turn or how far they run, God remains faithful. He never turns His back on them and instead, chases after them. He does the same with us. No matter how far we may run or what we might do, God is always there. He remains faithful. God remains steadfast and faithful. No matter how far we run or how hard we push, nothing is going to separate us from the steadfast, faithful love of God.
The redemption, promise, and faithfulness of God that we see given to Israel in Jeremiah, is the same that we experience because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It is through the cross that we truly know the redemptive love of God. It is through the resurrection of Christ that we are promised eternity with God. It is through the birth, death and resurrection of Christ that we experience, first hand, the faithfulness of God. That is the beauty of the cross. That is what we celebrate and reflect on during this Lenten season.
During this Lenten season, take the time to reflect on the redemptive love you experience day after day. Take time to reflect on the promises that God has given you. Where does God meet you? What promises has God given you? How do you experience God’s redemptive love? Where do you see God’s faithfulness? Whether you are in the valley or on the mountain top, give God praise for the redemption, promise and faithfulness you have in God.
Take a moment and listen to the song “How to be yours”, by Chris Renzema. Imagine the song as the people of Israel talking to God and reflect on how God responds later in the song.
May we remember God, that your love is not for us alone. May we bless others with the same grace and mercy you have shown us, even when they have wronged us. Thank you God, for your redemptive love and the promise that it brings. Thank you for your faithfulness even when we turn our face from you. May your Kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
About the Author
Katherine Mayer is the Family Pastor at One Church in Louisville, KY. She is originally from Northern California but has called Louisville home for almost seven years. She is married to Jacob and they have two kids. She is in the process of becoming a Spiritual Director and is planning to start seminary in the fall.