Sunday, December 2

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Expressing Gratitude: Civility and Human Rights
Scripture: Jeremiah 33:15

“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.”

The book of Jeremiah was written as Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians. In the wake of the conquest, many from Judea were exiled to Babylonia, living far from home in a foreign land. Jeremiah writes to try and make meaning of the situation—working to figure out “how we got here.” He also writes to try and bring hope in a hopeless situation: one day, an ancestor of David will come to save them from exile, bring judgment and justice to Jerusalem, and the exiles will be able to return home.

When I think about this passage I think about the many people around the globe displaced and exiled: from Libyans to Venezuelans, from Rohingya to Syrians, and so many places in between. I also think of the constantly growing number of climate refugees: those displaced by flood and fire, homes destroyed, with no place to go.

And while these many people—our human siblings—might find a place to be, increasingly it seems like the places they land fail to be a place of refuge. That, rather than finding places of safety, protection, and sanctuary, refugees are met with persecution, vulnerability, and prejudice.

As I read this passage I find myself asking: How can we be the just branch sprung from David? How can we be a sanctuary for the stranger? How can we help to restore the land? And how can we be less defended, living into gratitude for all we have, and extending that gratitude to remake this world as a sanctuary for all?

God of the exiled, the displaced, the refugee, as we enter this season of anticipation may we work to be a sanctuary for the stranger, a haven for the vulnerable, a harbor for the dispossessed. Help us to all be the branch of justice sprung from David, creating homes and havens with our words and actions. Amen.

~Celene Lillie