Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. Put on the robe of righteousness that comes from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting; for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven. — Baruch 5:1-3
“Even today, Christians give God glory primarily through acts of justice and mercy. Witness is only commentary on these acts. In the season of waiting, let us not forget the less fortunate. Let us act with justice and mercy.” — Larry Broding
But I’m just one person! What can I possibly do? But we’re such a small congregation. We have no resources. Our members are aging. We’re just trying to keep the lights on. What can we do? Our denomination is losing members hand over foot. Budgets are shrinking. What kind of difference can we make when we can’t even agree on simple things?
Ever heard anything like this? So has God. In the words from the prophetic writings of Baruch, a disciples of Jeremiah and the traditional author of the deutero-canonical book that bears his name, we learn that God will restore the beleaguered nation of Israel from captivity to righteousness.
This reading ends the book with hope and promise. If Israel will return to the LORD, to right worship, to acts of mercy and justice that give glory to God, then Israel will remain in right relationship to the LORD.
The next time you feel yourself weighed down with woe and smothered by sorrow, when your worshiping community feels ill-equipped and small in the face of the world’s needs, remember this reading. Put on the fresh clothes of God’s righteousness and live into a new reality that is the reign of God. Justice and mercy are lived out in small acts as well as large ones. There is work for all of us to do, and a place for all God’s children at the table. No one is too small, too insignificant, too young, too old, too rich, too poor, or too anything to help usher in the reign of God. Remember that God chose a seemingly insignificant lowly teenager to bear Christ into the world. Surely God can use us, too!
What one small act of mercy or justice can you do this very day? How can you help spread the good news of the coming of Jesus in your own little corner of the world? It could be as small as a smile and a hug or as grand as buying a goat or a water buffalo for a family half way round the world that you will never meet. It might be writing a letter to your elected official or praying for world peace. Small acts add up!
Blessings on your Sabbath day.