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Jeremiah 31:10-14

10 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.” 11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. 12 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. 13 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. 14 I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord.

This week is the final week of the church year. That may mean nothing to you, and you likely won’t find a Hallmark card to address the occasion. Next week you can say “Happy New Year” to your family when you gather for Thanksgiving, and some of your cousins may wonder if you have started the day with Mimosas instead of Starbucks. But you can assure them that you are correct in what you say.

We follow what is called “The Revised Common Lectionary.” This lectionary assigns readings for every day of the year, and that is what I have been following for most of these daily devotions. Those of you who have attended churches of other denominations may notice that many of us use the same set of readings. These all come from this lectionary.

The lectionary is a three year cycle. Year C ends on Sunday. The main Gospel in this year has been Luke. Year B is Mark, with several weeks incorporating the Gospel of John, and year A focuses on the Gospel of Matthew.

There won’t be a ball drop in Times Square, but Happy New Year nonetheless!

Okay, enough trivia for the day.

The passage today from Jeremiah speaks of hope. Hope for the people of Israel that they will be brought back together after being in exile, and there will be reason for dancing and celebration.

I especially appreciate the second half of verse 13 –

I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

The past few thanksgivings have been tough. Lifelong traditions have been put on hold. We haven’t been able to visit with college friends over Thanksgiving due to COVID the past couple of years – that is after over 30 years of gathering with friends from college that weekend.

Two and a half years later, there is a chance that many of us have loved ones that we cannot visit. We will miss them at our tables.

Many of us may be staying home, playing it safe.

Many of us are worried about friends and loved ones who have tested positive for COVID recently, or again!

Many of are concerned for friends and loved ones who are overwhelmed by their work as healthcare professionals and caregivers.

Many of us are weary and exhausted from restrictions and online learning and masks and canceled plans and… you know what I am talking about.

It still is a difficult time.

And yet, we have hope and a promise.

A new year is coming.

And in this new year, we will enter a season of hope and anticipation. We will once again make the way for the coming of a savior. Oh, how we need a Savior.

I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

We long for that day.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Let us Pray: Almighty God, we are done with this year. As we enter a new season, may we do so with anticipation and hope that the new year is filled with comfort, gladness and joy. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. (Come soon!)

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