“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.”
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 labor, together; a great company, they shall return here.
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.” (Jeremiah 31:7-9)
We are, beloved reader, entering into Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary. The themes are confession, penance, and forgiveness. We recognize our sin, and name it. That we repent of it is assumed, for we accept the penance that the Lord requires of us; and we are forgiven. There are consequences of sin, beloved reader. But praise be to God, these consequences do not follow us, but are swept away and forgotten by the Divine; swallowed up in forgiveness and we are made whole and clean. But we must come to the Lord and name our sin, accepting what we must do to make amends.
“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.”
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.” (Verses 10-11)
We confess our helplessness, that we were weak when we should have been strong. Succumbed when we should have resisted. But all will be made well.
“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.
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.
I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord.” (Verses 12-14)
We shall enter the New Year rejoicing that God has not left us in our sin, but that a way was made for us to receive again the Lord’s blessing and bounty. Selah!