Advent Hope

Sunday, November 28, 2021
Pastor Deb Kielsmeier

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14,

Waiting in the dark. It is one of the big themes of Advent.

Waiting. Waiting.

Waiting for an end to the darkness.

Waiting for the light of Life to appear.

Waiting for the coming Lord.

Is waiting anyone’s favorite activity? Ugh. It feels like we are not doing anything, yet it requires incredible patience and hope.

At times we wait with great anticipation… like for a birth of baby. Sometimes we wait with great excitement – like finally seeing a loved one after months of separation. And sometimes we wait with anxiety and uncertainty of what the future may hold.

We are no strangers to waiting. And never mind waiting for Christmas! We have already had a lot of practice with waiting this past year. We are STILL waiting for this pandemic to finally be over. Waiting for our lives to return to normal (whatever that is.) And now, we are waiting for a new pastor to be called and installed at Augustana.

Waiting can be hard. Very hard.

That certainly was the case in spades for the people of Judah.

It was about…. 580 B. C.  The Babylonians had ransacked Jerusalem and leveled the temple. The people of Judah, the southern kingdom, were torn from their beloved promised land and marched across 500 miles of desert into exile.

The people were traumatized – they had lost everything.  Homes, loved ones, their city, their culture, and the temple.

The importance of the temple sometimes gets lost on us modern day believers.  But for Judah, the temple was a central part of their relationship with God. The temple assured them that God was present. It was the scared place where they gathered to worship with songs of praise. It was a place of sacrifice and prayer, an assurance that God heard them, forgave their sin, and dwelt among them.

Now the temple lay in ruin – and they were far off.  Strangers in a strange land. No one spoke their language. No on ate their food. And no one worshipped their God.

False prophets jumped in with soothing words. Thus says the Lord, don’t unpack your Samsonite, guys.  This is nothing.  It will all end soon, and you will be back home before you know it.

Optimistic words they wanted to hear. But they were lies. And the prophet Jeremiah was not having any of it. From Jerusalem, he sent a letter with the hard truth that the exile was going to be long. Generations long. The people would return. But it would be the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those who left.

Their reality was devastating. And it wasn’t going to end soon.

Settle in, God tells them. Build houses and live in them. This may be the last place you want to be.  But plant gardens and trees. Marry and have sons and daughters. Celebrate at weddings and rejoice when babies are born. Seek peace and the welfare of the city. And pray for Babylon and be a blessing to them.

They did not choose this situation. But it was outside their control.

It was painful. And when the months turned to years and the years to decades, you wonder how they kept going. How they held on. To their identity, to their hope, to their faith that God would see them through.

Their reality was hard. And yet, and yet, God was with them.

Even without the temple. Even in the uncertainty. Even when they could not discern God’s presence. Even in the darkness. God was at work.  Quietly, silently, relentlessly God was working out the plans he had for them.

Plans for a future and a hope. Plans for their welfare and not for harm.

It took over 70 years…three generations … but God was faithful to his promise. The people returned to Jerusalem. It didn’t look anything like the Jerusalem their grandparents told stories about. It still lay in ruin. But the light had dawned.

Waiting is hard.  Can I get an amen?

If the truth be told, there are times when we wonder if all our prayers and work toward a just world will ever make a difference.  We wonder if God really sees and hears us as we cry out in our own darkness. When nothing seems to change- it is hard to hold onto hope. To hold onto faith.

Here is the good news. This is what God says to those who wait in the darkness of exile.

I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord,

They may not be easy. but they are good plans.

Plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.


And, when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart.

Even here. Even now. Even in the dark of Advent. God is with us. God hears us.

It may be quiet, It may be silent, it may be dark. But God is with us. God hears us. And God is at work. Bringing a future and a hope.

Come Lord Jesus, Come.


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