“Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height: look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east, at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them.” (Baruch 5:5 NRSV)
Baruch is one of those books of the bible in the section we call Deuterocanonical or the Apocrypha. It is in Catholic bibles, but it is not included in Protestant ones. Nonetheless, this reading from Baruch is one of the options for the Second Sunday of Advent from the common lectionary.
Baruch was the secretary for the Israelite prophet, Jeremiah. This letter from Baruch was sent to priests and people of Israel back in the sixth century BCE. However, some scholars believe that this letter was written down around 200 BCE or later.
Chapter five of Baruch is one of consolation and encouragement because the Holy One of Israel promised to free his people/children from exile and gather them again in the holy city of Jerusalem.
It would indeed be a time of joy when God’s children would return to the land promised to them. They would see familiar places, the old neighborhood or village, and see some friends who were not carted off into exile decades ago.
Children being gathered together from the book of Baruch makes me think of children gathering this Christmas with families for joyful celebrations. I know that there are Christmas times when adult children cannot make it home to celebrate with mom and dad. That’s disappointing.
Perhaps children are serving in the military in a foreign country and cannot make it home although a phone call, text, or email would ease the pain of not seeing them in person. There are also cases where some children are estranged from their parents and their desire to visit with them has been lost. And I also know that some parents are grieving because their children have tragically died and have gone before them. However, some churches have “Blue Christmas” services to help grieving parents cope with the loss of their children.
So, if your children are with you at Christmas, thank God for gathering them with you at this holy time of the year. Give them a hug. Tell them you love them. Pray for them. Rejoice and celebrate the birth of the Messiah with them. You will never regret it.
According to Baruch, Israel was going to rejoice because God remembered them and promised to gather his children again in the holy city of Jerusalem. In a similar way, let us rejoice and thank God when we gather with our children, too.
Thanks be to God.
(For more information about Baruch, see the introduction to this book in the New Revised Standard Version, The Harper Collins Study Bible, 2006.)