Scripture: Ezekiel 11:14-25
Key verse: (17) Therefore say: Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.
Reflection: I am easily homesick. As a child, I hated “sleep-away camp” until I was a teenager. Even as an adult, a day or two away is ok but then I’m ready to come home. I want to return to sleep in my own bed, to cook in my kitchen, and to relax in my familiar surroundings. I have pushed myself to tolerate longer times away because I want to have new experiences around the world. But I always long to return home!
The overarching story of Scripture has an ebb and flow of God scattering and gathering the people. God’s people were gathered in Babel and then scattered when they began to speak in different languages. Later they were gathered as a kingdom and then scattered when they were unfaithful, conquered by enemies, and dispersed in exile. The prophet Ezekiel wrote to the exiled people, offering hope that they would be gathered together and restored to their homeland of Israel. Likely the people felt homesick, displaced and out of sorts in a foreign land. They longed to return home with all of the comfort and familiarity that implied.
Today’s gospel reading is Luke 10:17-24. Jesus had sent out (scattered!) seventy disciples to proclaim the kingdom of God in every town and place. When they returned (gathered!), he celebrated with them in the joys of their ministry. The ebb and flow of scattering and gathering continues to this day as we go out to share good news and return to our community to rejoice, reflect, and recharge.
Wherever we go, whatever we face, God offers us the reassurance that we will be gathered into God’s presence. In the depths of loneliness, we are not alone because God is there. In the strangeness of a foreign place, we are not adrift because God is with us. In the midst of chaos or struggle, we are not abandoned because God is on the journey with us. Whenever we have felt “scattered,” literally or figuratively, God gathers us in and offers us care. Whenever we have gone out in ministry, God rejoices with us as we celebrate good news.
Prayer: You send us out into the world, O Lord. Sometimes we go willingly and other times we go reluctantly, but we know you are always with us. Give us a deep assurance of your presence on the journey. Through Christ we pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].