In the time of the prophet Jeremiah, the Israelites were living in Babylonian exile. They had lost their homes, their temples, everything about their normal lives that they had taken for granted. Isolated, lost, and in a strange new world, they turned to Jeremiah to bring them a message from God.
In Jeremiah 29, we hear God’s message to them.
“The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims to all the exiles I have carried off from Jerusalem to Babylon:
Build houses and settle down; cultivate gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Get married and have children; then help your sons find wives and your daughters find husbands in order that they too may have children. Increase in number there so that you don’t dwindle away. 7 Promote the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because your future depends on its welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7 CEB
Can you imagine? Can you imagine the Israelites gathered together, holding their breath, waiting for Jeremiah’s message from God about how God was going to rescue them? Can you imagine the what it would have felt like to hear: build houses. Plant gardens. You’re not going anywhere.
I can imagine its what we might have felt like when it became clear that 2 weeks of self-isolation was a day-dream. When we all looked at the maps and the graphs and charts and realized that this wasn’t going to be a weird week, or even weird month, but a weird summer, and likely longer.
God tells them to have harvests and weddings. To find a way to create life, to celebrate, to feast in this world. That this isn’t what they wanted, but that God intends them to persevere.
This week’s family Sunday school is about celebration, and how we create pockets of celebration, of weddings and harvests, in the middle of a world that is nothing like we expected. It’s a topic on my mind because this Sunday is senior recognition. Our youth banquet was supposed to be this Sunday. I grieve not having those things that I love so dearly, and which are such rites of passage for our incredible young people. I grieve for those who didn’t have the weddings or graduations they thought they would have. But this week, we are doing everything we can to create celebration at every turn in a new way for our seniors, doing things we would have never done before, mobilizing whole groups of volunteers to create something truly special. We will celebrate. We will have our harvests and weddings.
Because just as surely as God was present and active with the Israelites in Babylonian exile, God is present and active with us.
Director of Youth Ministries
Want to download and print this lesson? Click here to download PDF of Family Sunday School for 5.3.20
5.3.20 Family Sunday School Guide