Jeremiah 33:1-34:22; 1 Timothy 4:1-16; Psalm 89:1-13; Proverbs 25:23-24
God of Kept Promises
Great nineteenth century musician Johannes Brahms, composer of A German Requiem, assembled the Biblical texts for his sacred masterpiece in a manner that set it apart from the traditional Latin texts of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass. While the Requiem Mass of the Roman Catholic tradition begins with prayers for the dead (“Grant them eternal rest, O Lord”), A German Requiem focuses on the living, beginning with the text “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
The text of the second movement of the Brahms’ work brings us a clear message that relates to a central theme in today’s readings. The essential words are taken from 1 Peter 1:24-25: “All flesh is like grass… but the word of the Lord remains forever.” The music is sturdy, comforting and uplifting. It reminds the living that, even in a time of grief and loss, God’s promise of hope and eternal joy is a reality – another of God’s kept promises.
As Jeremiah was captive in an alien and hostile land, he was sustained by the promise that offered hope of the restoration of Jerusalem and of the return of sounds of joy and laughter. It is, however, clear that the fulfillment of God’s promises comes to those who are faithful and attentive to His Word.
In Psalm 89, a scholarly and enlightened man (maskil) named Ethan the Ezrahite vows to “make God’s faithfulness known through all generations.”
Certainly we are called to give thanks to all who have raised us up in the knowledge of God’s promises – parents and grandparents, teachers and mentors, and all who have touched our lives in a way that instills in us the message of Scripture, so that we will know the Word of the Lord (that) remains forever.
Randall B. Krum
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
Lake Mary, FL