The Days Are Surely Coming

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
Jeremiah 33:14-16

Our common knowledge of the effects of trauma and living through crises is growing. Because of the pandemic that arose way too quickly and has lingered way too long, we have all gotten crash courses on what it means to live through collective and personal upheaval. One thing we have learned is that in times of uncertainty and anxiety, we tend to go back to what we know for sure. Rather than take risks and try new things, when our foundation is crumbling, we cling on to what has worked in the past, focusing inward.

During a recent workshop with the pastors in the Cultivating Enough in the Care of Clergy initiative, pastor, author, and consultant, Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow talked about the disruptions of Covid-19. Among them was the tendency to replicate instead of reimagine. This was seen in our move to online worship that did its best to replicate our usual Sunday morning services instead of reimagine something totally different. There is a reason we do this; our hearts and minds were swirling with questions and concerns for our lives. The suddenness of the lockdown and the stress of doing all things new was overwhelming.

In this Jeremiah passage, we find our faithful people in the midst of an utter mess. All around them is chaos and destruction from the violent oppression of Babylonians, who have ruined life as they knew it. And it is in the midst of this anxiety that God speaks a word to them. “The days are surely coming…” They are reminded, when they would rather turn back and cling to what they once knew; they are reminded that God has promised to do great things for them. They are reminded of God’s faithfulness that is never compromised. “The days are surely coming…” when they will live in safety, free from fear and oppression.

I wonder if in these words, God is not only trying to comfort these despairing people of faith, but also urging them beyond that instinct to hunker down, wait it out, and try to go back to what they knew. Perhaps God is grounding them in God’s faithfulness because it has the power to propel them to think beyond their current struggle. By overcoming that instinct to stop and turn inward, these faithful have the opportunity to be co-creators of the hopeful future that is marked with justice, peace, and equity. Because our true foundation is our unshakable God, we can dream and imagine, even in times of disruption and change. As we enter into another Advent season may we be comforted by the coming of Emmanuel, God-with-us, and also encouraged to join our creative, creating God to be part of something new.