Jeremiah 31:1; 10-14
At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 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. 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.”
I’ve never been much of a gardener and most plants in my care die pretty quickly from negligence or neglect, but I know the signs of healthy plants. Maybe it’s also my dislike of vegetables and broccoli in particular; but I’ve never wanted to start a garden either. But I can see in gardens or yards what well-tended and cared for should look like and the importance of such greenery for many. I’ve had family and friends be deeply invested and proud of their gardens and the sustenance they provided for their lives. Many tell of the joy of a garden tomato or salad is like no other. And so that verdant and ecstasy of being able to grow their own gardens as a sign of God’s redemption is woven throughout this text from Jeremiah. The return from exile will be total freedom; the ability to grow your own plants, just imagine. The abundance of not only your own land but also the other necessities of life, oil, wine, grain, and flocks will be their own as well. What joy for all, when God’s people are truly home and what celebration is in store. I love the final images of the young women’s mourning turned to dancing as well as young and old making merry. I, too pray God’s kingdom will, indeed be like that. And extra joyful for those broccoli lovers too.
Redeeming Lord, as your gather your flock to truly show us what goodness and abundance looks like; may we set aside our own languishing to do everything ourselves. We praise you for your steadfast love that seeks us out in our wandering and exile then calls us home. In Christ’s precious name, we pray Amen.