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.
God’s covenant people through Abraham, Moses and David became scattered in the ancient world of Assyrian and Babylonian captivity. Because of war, many became refugees in the ancient world. Life would have been incredibly difficult for them, particularly for the blind and those unable to walk and women carrying small children on their hips, shoulders or in utero.
But Jeremiah declares that there will be this day when God will draw all those scattered children of Israel together again. He specifically names those for whom the journey would be physically impossible. Often, those who’d slow down the traveling parties might be left behind. They were completely dependent upon the able-bodied to slow down and help. But, oh, how indeed, Jeremiah prophesies, with the great company, those least-abled shall return.
As I write this, I am sitting at a table with my father who is no longer able-bodied, neither cognitively nor physically. My mother has left to run an errand and cannot leave him alone. His eyes close and head sinks to his chin as he keeps slipping into little naps. He could get hurt if he was left alone.
Jeremiah’s words give us courage and hope. We don’t want to leave behind those we love who no longer can keep up. Furthermore, caregivers are unable to keep the regular pace of life as their days are absorbed with caring for their loved ones.
I am so glad for caregivers. I am grateful that Risen Lord, through the leadership of Fred Freeman, is beginning a memory caregivers support group. What other ways might we minister better to those who can no longer participate in the life of the congregation or feel to do so would be impossible?
These may include those with spatial and cognitive disorders or social anxiety. These can include young parents who struggle to keep up with all the expectations society places on them as parents, especially parents raising children with disabilities.
Lord God, this vision of Jeremiah of your great gathering includes everyone, especially those who physically or emotionally challenged. Oh, how we long for a restored humanity and creation! Grant us insight and compassionate creativity to foster Christ-like hospitality where each one feels a valuable part of the ministry we share and a part of Your kingdom here now and to come! Amen.