This is what the LORD says: “Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘O LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’ See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.”
The Change That Brings Us Home
A year ago, Christians, especially Lutheran Christians, celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Five hundred years ago, all of Europe was caught up in a time of unparalleled change. The Reformation changed how people looked at God and at themselves. Five hundred one years later, very little has changed.
Lutheran Christians still look upon God as a God of grace—a God known primarily for his loving forgiveness of sins, based on Christ’s sacrifice.
Lutheran Christians look upon themselves as sinners and saints at the same time. They believe in and practice confession and absolution. They have a sure and blessed hope of heaven based on the promises of God and the completed work of Christ.
So, while little has changed for Lutheran Christians, we can also say everything is changing and that change happens every day. Every day the Holy Spirit is bringing people to faith or renewing faith that had faltered and waned. Of course, this is not just a Lutheran or Reformation thing. This is the work of God that Jeremiah prophesied about.
In our reading, we see sharp contrasts indicative of great change. The people of God—the ones he saved for his own glory “sing for joy” and “come with weeping.” They “shout” and they “pray.” The blind, the lame, and the expectant mothers return to their God on a “level path where they will not stumble.”
Everything changed for God’s Old Testament people Israel when they heeded the words of the prophets. When they listened carefully to men like Jeremiah and Isaiah, they saw God’s grace and mercy—his loving desire to be in relationship with them. They saw their sin and their need to repent and everything changed.
There was reformation well before there was the Reformation. God has been changing people since the fall into sin. He has been and still is calling us home on the path of salvation he established through Christ, leading us by faith step by step. This reformation is the change that brings us home.
Lord God, thank you for calling me heavenward in Christ. Lead me safely home by faith in him as my Savior. Amen.