December 11, 2012

A lullaby for me

By Mara Weaver, a senior history major from Bloomingtown, Ill.
SCRIPTURE: Zephaniah 3:14-20 (NRSV)
DEVOTIONAL:

When I was younger, my parents would tuck me into bed almost every night. No matter what juvenile trauma I had faced during the day or the squabbles I had had with my mom or dad, I could count on the fact that the day would end with them singing me the same lullabies, pulling the covers up to fold me tightly into bed and kissing me goodnight. The safety and love wrapped up in this routine was something that I was not necessarily able to name when I was five years old, but as the years have passed, I have come to realize how lucky I was to have that care and consistency in my life as a child.

As I transitioned out of childhood and into the mystery that is the teenage years, I left behind the ritual that had offered so much comfort. But at the same time that my parents’ gentle lullabies began to fade, a new song emerged, a simple tune carried by the words of Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD your God is with you. God is mighty to save. God will take great joy in you. God with quiet you with God’s love. God will rejoice over you with singing.” This was — and is — a lullaby for me, a song stemming from the love of my God and heavenly parent restoring and renewing my peace when I most need it.

But it gets better than that. God is not just with us as some caretaker far away. Christ has come, Christ is risen and Christ will come again. When this passage delivers the words “the LORD your God is with you,” it does not mean that God’s presence is a thing of the past. This is a reality that we can — and must — proclaim in this season of Advent as we anticipate the coming of Immanuel, God with us.

SCRIPTURE: Zephaniah 3:14-20 (NRSV)
Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgements 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;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.
I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the Lord.

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Comments (21)

  1. Mara, check out Alice Parker’s aira for two sopranos in her Mennonite-related composition SINGERS’ GLEN. It features these words from Zephaniah and I think you would find it equally “lullaby-ish”. Thank you for sharing this poignant memory.

    Lorraine Murphy December 11, 2012 |
  2. What a sweet reflection! No matter how mature we become, it is comforting to know that God Almighty is our caretaker and an always close companion. Thanks for sharing this great reminder of the rest we have in the Prince of Peace, and especially during this busy season.

    Ruth December 11, 2012 |
  3. Mara, I have long loved this text but missed the lullaby. Now I hear it. Thanks!

    Joan December 11, 2012 |
  4. Mara, What beautiful words pointing to our beautiful saving God!

    Sherry December 11, 2012 |
  5. Beautiful!

    RuthE December 11, 2012 |
  6. Mara – Thank you for helping to rightly center my thoughts as this day begins.

    David December 11, 2012 |
  7. My wife Joyce, and I have spent the last four months at St. John’s Abbey in MN. The reason I mention this is that in my interviews with nearly 25 monks, I find this quiet joy, the acceptance of Christ’s presence, right here, right now to be a common theme. And personally, I know it it true…God will take great joy in you. Thank you for the posting.

    Jep Hostetler December 11, 2012 |
  8. Thanks Mara for your words. Well written and comforting. :)

    Brook Hostetter December 11, 2012 |
  9. Mara, your childhood experience, and the reminder of the Zephaniah passage come again as a reassuring message. Thank you.

    Wilma Shank December 11, 2012 |
  10. As an advocate of children’s faith and attentiveness to their formation, I thank you for posting this lovely testimony to the ongoing impact of the faith nurtured in you as a child, and hope you will always remember this foundation, for it will see you through life, including frailty and aging well if it is recognized as a good companion to your adult engagement with belief and discipleship.

    Elsie Rempel December 11, 2012 |
  11. Mara, this is a beauitful word picture of God’s ever-constant care for His children. Thank you for sharing your insight!

    DeeDee Barnes Bruns December 11, 2012 |
  12. With thanksgiving for this beautiful, powerful, meaningful heartfelt devotion! What great thoughts to ponder and lullabies to claim! Thank you, Mara!

    Ramona Yoder December 11, 2012 |
  13. Thanks Mara, for sharing these thoughts at the beginning of the day. So well written! Have you considered a double major?: History & Journalism seem right for you.

    Mary K. Mishler December 11, 2012 |
  14. Thank you, Mara, for this nurturing image of God tucking us each into bed with the blessing: You are a joy! Rest now in my love while I sing you to sleep. Peace to you ~

    Gwen GZ December 11, 2012 |
  15. Lovely….your devotion is a blessing. Thank you, Barbara Clark

    Barbara Clark December 11, 2012 |
  16. Thanks for your well written devotional. It means a lot to hear it from you. Keep writing.

    Rachel Zehr December 11, 2012 |
  17. Having known you from the time you were that young child, it has been a blessing to watch you grow and know you now as a young adult. Turning this passage into a lullaby is beautiful and a blessing–thank you.

    Sue Byler December 11, 2012 |
  18. Bless you, Mara. Wilbur and I appreciated hearing your comments.

    Dolores Bauman December 11, 2012 |
  19. Mara—thank you for this moment of ministry—-so thoughtfully put together. I have always seen you as a minister to others even from the very early days when you were quite young! I have not heard what you see as your career path but I really feel that God has given you special gifts in ministry. Listen carefully to that call!

    Marjorie Nester December 12, 2012 |
  20. Beloved Mara, what a precious and powerful image for us! I now know I will use words from this passage for our Sunday worship benediction.

    Frances December 12, 2012 |
  21. The Psalmist speaks about “deep calling to deep” which is exactly what your meditation did for me today — a connection that goes waaaaay back to my own childhood and then reborn as a parent with our son years later. Thank you for setting my day aright.

    Jim Brenneman, GC President December 12, 2012 |