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The days are coming

by davesandel on December 2nd, 2018

The days are coming

First Sunday of Advent, December 2, 2018

In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The Lord our justice!”– from Jeremiah 33

Today the frozen steel Illinois winter is covered over with sunshine. Back yard birds fill their mouths with seeds, the chickens catch up all that falls below. Urbana, the sea of trees, hosts thousands of birds. They have been here far longer than us. Today they sing and sing in the sun.

But I must answer the front doorbell. The morning sun just begins to cross our drive. Yesterday’s ice melts. Standing a step below me, my sweet carefully made-up friend waits to give me her Awake magazine. This month’s topic is grief. She wonders if I know anyone in the California Camp Fire. No. Not this time. I know others. Grief rests, waits, in the corner. I think of my favorite book of the year, Cry, Heart, But Never Break.

Her breath steams in the cold. In the backyard two cardinals join our flock of sparrows, and a red headed woodpecker, and a blue jay. The blue jay is bigger than our baby chicks when they were two weeks old. It scares me sometimes with its blue jay glare.

My friend doesn’t want the open front door to let in all that cold air. She asks me to read, for myself, 2 Corinthians 1:3. She shows it to me on her phone, highlighted, and she bids me farewell. Till next time. Au revoir. Her silent companion smiles up at us. They are doing their work. They are doing what needs to be done. Soon they can have some coffee.

Paul tells me to praise my Father, the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” Their morning reminder softens my heart. And now, back watching the birds, I notice that even Jeremiah, so persecuted and full of pain, so unwilling to do what God insisted that he alone could do, comforts me today.

For Jeremiah to use words like “safe” and “secure” required him to look beyond his own sores and sadness. To claim the fiery God who seduced him (Jeremiah 20) as “the Lord our justice,” Jeremiah chose to look through the smoke and ruins and see reconstruction. He chose. He chose to see glory. He chose joy. And implicit in his choice is the request that I do the same.

How precious are your thoughts, O Lord. How wonderful your breath on my cold heart, my hungry heart, my willing child’s heart. Soften me like the bread dough on our counter, and raise me up to praise your name.

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