December 27

Jeremiah 31:7-14

“Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” vs. 13

There was a time when confirmation instruction included long diatribes by pastors about the evils of dance, card-playing, drinking, and movies. Some confirmands got the notion that being a follower of Jesus was a pretty joyless enterprise and couldn’t wait until they could “graduate” from church by being confirmed. The fact that such injunctions didn’t quite jibe with scripture went unnoticed for generations in those pietistic communities. Intentions might have been good but the results were disastrous. Jeremiah offers a different picture as he describes his hope for the land of Judah. He looks forward to a time when the people will be set free from captivity and return to their home. Young women will be dancing; young men and the old shall be merry. There’ll be gladness all around! There’s no good reason why followers of Jesus can’t get in on that kind of fun too. We’ve been set free from the law and are no longer bound to the legalisms that have long been such an integral part of religious life in our communities of faith. Living in Christ is a joyful and hopeful experience and there isn’t any place for dour disapproving faces and gloomy sanctuaries. Of course we will be mindful of our behaviors–but there’s no reason we can’t make merry–especially when we’ve got good news for the whole world.

Thought for the Day: When have I had fun in church?

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