Strictly come dancing — in Babylon!
Jeremiah 31: 7-14 (NRSVA)
7 For thus says the Lord:
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
‘Save, O Lord, your people,
the remnant of Israel.’
8 See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
those with child and those in labour, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
9 With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
10 Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.’
11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob,
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall become like a watered garden,
and they shall never languish again.
13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
14 I will give the priests their fill of fatness,
and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty,
says the Lord.
An invitation to dance into the New Year, praising God with hope and expectation, amidst the harsh realities of life.
Jeremiah is known as the prophet of doom, predicting the fall of Jerusalem and the time of exile. However, once the prophecy is fulfilled, his tone changes. Jeremiah 30-33 is known as “The Book of Comfort” where he gives visions of hope and restoration.
He puts his money where his mouth is. He has just bought a field at Anathoth as practical investment in a new future for Israel many decades after his time. Then he tells the exiles that God promises them “a hope and future”, but to settle down for a long wait.
Now, with prophetic imagination, he sees God’s people being released from the iron grip of Babylonian tyranny and gathered home, amidst economic prosperity and dancing in the streets.
With hope-inspired imagination, they are no longer boxed in by their political situation.
Dance into the New Year, and break free of whatever is boxing you in. K…e…e…p dancing!
It sounds frivolous, Lord —
Dancing In the face of tough times
of a pandemic, a planet at risk
and a dysfunctional society.
We dare not trust in false optimism.
It sounds serious, Lord —
Dancing to the rhythm God’s words of hope.
Rooted in your eternal life
We dare to trust our One true God.
It sounds challenging, Lord —
Dancing into the New Year with hope.
Rising up, raising others up,
Investing in a future yet unseen,
We dare to trust in Your Coming Kingdom. AMEN