Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 Ezekiel 36:24-28 Mark 11:27-33
The prophecy of Ezekiel comes from the heart of a man who has been living in exile. He is in Babylon under the rule of a foreign dictator. His home is in Jerusalem where he longs to return with his family. He receives a word from the Lord about the restoration of his fallen homeland. It is a theme that will bring new life to the entire nation of Israel. Check out chapter 36 for the prophetic outcome!
For now, the four short verses from our reading provide us with a wonderful image of restoration. It is personal restoration that accompanies a national reworking. It is an image of hope that once again connects our journey to the waters of baptism.
God tells the people that they will be restored to their homeland. In addition, God will sprinkle them with cleansing water to purify them from their experience of exile. Then, God promises to provide a new heart to the people. A heart of stone has developed through all the hardship of exile. But God wants them to have a heart of flesh that will allow the people to return to full obedience.
Our Advent journey is also a homecoming expedition. We come home to the Christ child who will provide love, comfort, hope, and the gift of salvation. Our homecoming requires a commitment to start fresh. God promises to cleanse, provide, and restore our lives as we are faithful in our journey.
Jeremiah 31:33 carries a similar theme…each person is to receive a heart that is right with God so our journey can be complete. Today is a day of reflection. May I ask you some personal questions? Are there areas of life where your heart has become hard like stone? Is there some cleansing that needs to be done? Would you like to arrive at the manger with a new spirit in your heart or would it be OK to just go through the motions? God is ready…are you?