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A Bold Invitation from Zephaniah

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A Bold Invitation from Zephaniah

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory.

—Zephaniah 3:14–17

Today is my birthday. What a blessing it is to reflect on these words from the prophet Zephaniah, on such a special day. Indeed, my heart is singing “aloud” as I contemplate my life thus far and my deep identity as a beloved daughter of God, unique and precious and loved from the very beginning, for all eternity.

I feel that deep presence of love as I receive phone calls and messages in a myriad of ways, from family and friends and from places far and wide. I recognize this ability to use technology to see each other and stay in touch, in ways like never before, as a gift in what has otherwise been a difficult time of COVID lockdown.

I “rejoice and exult” with all my heart the gift of life and all that it brings—such beauty and mystery, amidst the deep disappointment and pain. Indeed, I know too well that I can easily be weighed down by all the have-nots I perceive in my life, the distressing news of violence and war, injustice and inequality, and of course, the devastating impact that COVID has wreaked on people across the world. With all of this can come confusion and fear, worry and loss. I wonder, What does the future hold?

And yet, amidst the chaos and turmoil, the unknown and unknowable, I am brought back to the present—to today. And I am gifted with the Word of life and of hope: “The LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.” The Lord is in my midst—our midst—and we shall fear disaster no more. Such words are balm to my soul as I soak in this promise: the Lord my God, the universal Christ that has always been and always will be, exists at this very moment in my heart, in my very being.

I am never alone. We are never alone. The Holy Spirit— the giver of life, the helper—dwells and lives in my heart, helping and guiding me to a life that is full and flourishing. That is the promise for each and every one of us. It’s an invitation, really, for we are invited to say yes to God’s presence and action in our lives, to allow these words of life to take hold and inspire our every thought and action.

We have been extended a bold invitation: to “fear disaster no more.” To move through life boldly and courageously, rejoicing and exulting, even in the darkest of times. There is no light without shade, no joy without sadness. They co-exist. But I can rejoice in the knowledge that victory is already ours; a warrior has given us the victory. Indeed, I am reminded Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Death did not and does not have the last word. And in my life, death does not have the last word. Each day, I encounter moments of resurrection, of overcoming the darkness, and of rejoicing and exulting. And for each of these moments, grounded in the knowledge of who I am and the promise of what is and what’s to come, I give thanks. Deep thanks.

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