The readings today reminded me of being in Brisbane at the start of last year, when the devastating flood waters that had claimed too many lives in the Lockyer Valley moved downstream towards the city. Authorities did not want any more lives to be lost, so did all that they could to ensure that the population living in flood-prone areas of the city would prepare and evacuate in time.
Baruch was the secretary of the prophet Jeremiah, and seems likely to have been the writer and editor for Jeremiah. The six chapter work that bears his name is dated to the same period – after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple by the Babylonians in the year 586BC. Baruch addresses the small remnant of people who were not marched off in the chains of slavery and destitution to Babylon, but who remain decked out in their mourning cloaks, lamenting over what has been. Jewish people have a strong sense of history as linear – there was progression and purpose in all that God had done in the past in calling individuals and then the whole nation to be his people, who would worship God in the sacred place of the Jerusalem temple. It seemed that all that was lost. Baruch invites this people to throw off their cloaks, to arise and look to the East – towards the city of Babylon.
He doesn’t promise that some great army will come to help them avenge their loss. There is no ‘cavalry’ in sight. But there is the hope and trust in the God who is faithful to his promises, and who will bring his exiled people back home.
Recorded at St Paul’s, 8am (10’34”)
Advent Sunday 2, Year C