I know a little boy who is apprehensive about riding the Skyliner at Disney World. His younger siblings and cousin mindlessly throw their hands in the air as it swoops up from the station into the sky. But this little boy is old enough to have heard about the time when two or three of the cars collided in the first week of operation, and he is not quite ready to completely enjoy the experience yet.
We all know his apprehension and we say soothing things to him as we take off from the station. He holds on while we throw our arms in the air, and when we are in the sky, we say things that help him loosen his grip and look around. It won’t be long before he forgets his apprehension and will fully participate in the joy of flying skyward. In the meantime, we create calm in him with our love.
Our scripture this morning offers us a lovely image of God as he calms his people with love. The exile is over and the people will return to Jerusalem. God has defeated their enemies and has brought victory to them.
Zephaniah 3 (Common English Bible)
Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem.
15 The Lord has removed your judgment;
he has turned away your enemy.
The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst;
you will no longer fear evil.
16 On that day, it will be said to Jerusalem:
Don’t fear, Zion.
Don’t let your hands fall.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst—a warrior bringing victory.
He will create calm with his love;
he will rejoice over you with singing.
God’s calming love will bring back the lame and the outcast, and will restore all the people to their beloved homeland. All of the surrounding nations will watch as their fame and possessions are restored. They put their hope in God and he delivered them.
18 I will remove from you those worried about the appointed feasts.
They have been a burden for her, a reproach.
19 Watch what I am about to do to all your oppressors at that time.
I will deliver the lame;
I will gather the outcast.
I will change their shame into praise and fame throughout the earth.
20 At that time, I will bring all of you back,
at the time when I gather you.
I will give you fame and praise among all the neighboring peoples
when I restore your possessions and you can see them—says the Lord.
In a time of fear and exile, God calmed his people with his love. Where is God calling you to calm someone with your love today? Do you know a child who needs to be soothed? Is there a teenager in your midst who is stressing out over something and needs to be heard? Is your spouse worried about something? Can you say a kind word to a stranger today?
God’s calming love is both ours to keep and ours to give away. Go and create calm with his love for someone today.