We have journeyed throughout Advent with the people of Israel. We have followed their joys and sorrows. With them we have held fast to the promise that out of desolation God will bring hope and joy. We have attuned our ears to God’s word. We have listened to words of comfort and of challenge.
In a series of uncompromising prophecies Zephaniah holds Israel to account and warns of the destruction of Jerusalem. As with all prophetic literature you have to take the rough with the smooth. Alongside the warnings there is hope for a small group of faithful people:
Seek the Lord all you humble of the land,
who have observed his law.
Seek justice, seek humility.
A time of rejoicing is drawing near and Zephaniah uses the metaphor of Jerusalem as a daughter, who is called upon to rejoice:
O daughter of ZION;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult
with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
In some of the most vibrant and beautiful imagery in prophetic literature Zephaniah tells us of the depth of God’s joy over the daughter of Zion:
He will exult over you,
he will renew you by his love:
he will dance with shouts of joy for you
as on day of festival.
We probably don’t spend enough time imagining God exulting over us and dancing with joy for us. This same joy and delight lies at the heart of the Incarnation. Whatever the joys and sorrows you have experienced this Advent, tonight we gather to celebrate the power of light and love in God’s gift of Jesus to our world.
How have you been renewed in God’s love on this Advent journey?
(Zephaniah 3:14-18, Sunday 3, Year A)