Christmas carols remain the song of choice in my family all year. Earlier this morning, my five-year-old sat on the floor of the living room, singing his own version of “Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!” Sometimes the “re” syllable in “repeat” came out like “pe,” and I heard “pepeat the sounding joy.” And it wasn’t “sounding” joy; it was “sound of” joy. Despite his adaptations, the Christmas message of repeating the good news remained the same.
In Psalm 81, the psalmist sings of the one who feeds and provides. God chimes in and commands the Israelites to open wide their mouths with a promise to fill them. Although prophets have repeated over and over again God’s truth, the Israelites do not obey God. The story becomes cyclical: God makes a declaration of love, but the Israelites do not listen. God makes a declaration of love, and the Israelites listen. Repeat, repeat. As outsiders looking in, we easily see the repetition within the psalm, which drives home the call for us to trust and obey in the One who is enough.
But are we all that different from the Israelites? Don’t we fail to hear and believe God’s message repeated time and time again? Perhaps we should start singing a Christmas song of our own so we can hear the truth that God’s love is enough for us.
O Lord, I need to hear the repeated sounds of joy and truth again! Clean out my ears so I can hear you and believe in the depths of your love. Amen.
Jeremiah (the “weeping prophet”) is not very popular in his time. In this passage he relates a message from God that the people have forsaken God (living water) and put their trust in things that can never satisfy (leaky cisterns). The psalmist expresses similar frustration from God. Israel will not listen to God’s voice or receive God’s provision, so God allows them to experience the unfortunate consequences of their choices. The author of Hebrews provides practical advice for living the Christian life: showing hospitality, caring for those in prison, honoring marriage, and avoiding materialism. This ethical living is an offering to God. Jesus reinforces this in his parable of the banquet. We should be generous to those who need it most, not just to those who can provide us some benefit in return.
Read Jeremiah 2:4-13. When have you missed the fountain of living water springing up before you?
Read Psalm 81:1, 10-16. How is God seeking to provide for you? Are you willing to accept God’s satisfying provision?
Read Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16. How do you or your faith community share hospitality? Do you distinguish between friends and strangers?
Read Luke 14:1, 7-14. Whom do you invite to your home and to your church? Do you invite those who cannot repay you or only those who can?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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