• Dr. Bruce A. Havens

Sing Aloud With Gladness!


a message by the Rev. Dr. Bruce Havens

based on the theme: Something More for Christmas

Arlington Congregational Church, U.C.C.

January 3, 2021


Jeremiah 31:7-14 NRSV

7 For thus says the Lord: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.” 8 See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. 9 With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

10 Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.” 11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. 12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. 13 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. 14 I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord.




This morning I want to do something different. I have taken the Scripture reading and turned it into a responsive reading. In places I have added what I hope are words and thoughts that will help us all imagine what the Scripture means asif we were the ones living it and speaking it. As we begin a New Year and with all the pain of the past year this word from the prophet Jeremiah seems to speak to our experience. I hope the way I have interpreted it will help you experience that.



Jeremiah 31:7-14 NRSV

7 For thus says the Lord:

Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise,

and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.”


Sing aloud with gladness – for God hears our cry: “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant – those who have survived, and those who have helped us survive, truly angels of God’s mercy.

8 See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,

among them the blind and the lame,

those with child and those in labor, together;

a great company, they shall return here.


See, God promises to deliver us from every corner of the earth. We are the imperfect, the brokenhearted, the needy. We are God’s people. We pray that God will bring us into a time of blessing and hope.


9 With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back,


We sing aloud with gladness, and we sing the song of sorrow for the suffering of the past. We sing of those who were lost in exile and for their memory. We sing the song of gladness for a future when God will lead us to a time of consolation and renewed faith.

I will let them walk by brooks of water,


For God knows our thirst is great, our hunger is real. We have trusted God to lead us through dark valleys before. God has led us beside still waters and given us rest in green pastures. God has been good even when we have not been faithful, or merciful, or just.

in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;


The path has been hard, the twists and turns have left us confused and we have stumbled often. Now we pray the Lord makes the paths straight for us. May God make the mountains lower and the valleys rise up and make the crooked paths straight.


for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.


And God still claims us as God’s very own, God’s beloved, like a firstborn child. God has not forgotten or forsaken us.


10 Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,

and declare it in the coastlands far away;

say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him,

and will keep him as a shepherd of a flock.”


Sing aloud with gladness, and raise shouts! Proclaim, give praise,

and say, “Save, O Lord, your people,” that people everywhere will turn to you and trust you for life and blessing and new hope.”


11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.


From the hands of disease, and from injustice, from hopelessness and faithless fears, God has ransomed us. God has freed us and taken us back though we doubted and feared and hated God and others. We were in the grip of forces and powers that were too hard for us, but God has been our help in ages past and is our hope now and for the years to come.

12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,

over the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and over the young of the flock and the herd;

their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again.


Let us sing aloud with gladness! Let us believe that God will fill us with the goodness of grain, wine, and oil, with life like a watered garden – and not just us, but those who have suffered worse because they did not have our privileges. Bring us back from exile caused by our own lack of faith and our own willingness to ignore suffering of others and think our own privileges are all that matter. Help us to commit our way to making certain others do not languish or get left out of the blessings of God’s bounty that we have received.

13 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.


God is good to young and old, to poor and to rich, to people of different races and religions, different nations and different perspectives. We shall not limit God’s love. May God forgive us and renew us in the commitment to share God’s love with others. We will be the ones to comfort in God’s name. We will be the ones to bring gladness to the sorrowing in the name of our Savior.

14 I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord.


For God is a God of bounty, of plenty for all. The promise of our sacrament is that God will share the feast and all will eat and drink and find blessing.


May our singing be filled with new faith, new hope, and new joy that the future is one filled with the bountiful love of God. For with God’s love there is plenty for all. God calls us to a Table of Grace, where there is room for the weak and heavy-hearted, for the joyful and the hopeful. We need not fear for God has invited us to come as we are.


As we prepare for the feast of God, for the people of God, let us remember, at the table of grace the cup’s never empty, the plate’s always full and it's never too late


So come and be filled with love never ending, you’re always welcome at the table of grace. Everyone’s welcome at the Table of Grace.


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