In a stunning example of God’s sense of timing (and of the brilliance of the crafters of the Revised Common Lectionary, the three-year cycle of biblical readings followed by the Episcopal Church), we begin this new program year with a timely reminder of who – and Whose – we are. This week we hear once again the story of God’s saving history and enduring love for the People of Israel, our own spiritual ancestors. Preaching to a disheartened people in exile, the Prophet Jeremiah retells the central narrative of their identity, recalling how God “brought [them] up from the land of Egypt” and “led [them] in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness,” bringing them the last “into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things.”
And yet, for all of God’s faithful provision, it seems to be human nature to forget. In the midst of a time of religious and political turmoil, the People of Israel lose heart and, in so doing, lose sight of who they really are. Filled with despair, they begin to worship idols, turning away from God toward other sources of so-called sustenance – sources which do not and cannot, in fact, sustain.
As we at St. Dunstan’s enter this new season of discipleship together, it is worth asking how this story might be our story, too. Have there been times in the course of our own lives when we have forgotten who – and Whose – we are? Have there been points at which we have found ourselves so filled with despair – at our own pain, at failed relationships, at the brokenness of our world – that we have been unable or unwilling to see God’s hand at work in our very midst?
If so, we are not alone. This is what we humans tend to do, after all. We forget. We turn away. We become distracted by other, seemingly equally compelling, demands. And this is precisely why it is so important that we come together regularly as the “household of God,” to quote from our baptismal liturgy, to be fed in Word and Sacrament and to be re-membered – literally put back together – by Christ’s Presence among us.
This fall, I invite you to come “home” to St. Dunstan’s, whether you have been worshipping here for many years or are relatively new to this fellowship. Come and see what God might be up to at this time and in this place. Most of all, come and be reminded of who you really are: a beloved Child of God, precious in God’s sight.
Peace and blessings from your fellow pilgrim,