Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
Jeremiah 23:1-6 (NRSV)
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD.
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.”
The clocks are rolled back. The days are shorter. Fall has fallen, and the season of gathering is fully upon us. Perhaps that sense of gathering a harvest in today’s world is more symbolic than real. We are more likely to gather our harvest weekly in the controlled temperature and climate, wonderfully organized and lighted aisles of our local supermarkets. Still, we gather a harvest albeit planted, grown, picked, and shipped by other’s hands.
This time of year we also begin to think about gathering around table and tree as the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas edge closer to us. Plans will be made. Trips will be taken. In many cases, we will be returning to a place still called home in our hearts and minds. We’ll listen to stories, look at old pictures, endure a cheek pinch or two, and pass out free hugs to family. For all the reasons we scatter, gathering back home is a gift of the holidays.
God promises this same kind of gathering. No matter who or what has caused us to scatter, God is faithful and aware of our need to be gathered and restored. Nothing will stop God from accomplishing this. We are loved. We are valued. We are God’s children—a truth worthy of acceptance and a gracious gift from a loving God.
Gathering God, keep us and protect us. Help us to hold tightly to our connections with those we love and to know the intimate sense of your connection with us. Grant us grace to accept your constant presence in our lives that we may be present in others until we are gathered again. Our prayer is offered in the name of the Great Shepherd, Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Go with God.