“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply.” Jer 23:3
The remnant of Israel is a name given to a group of exiled Jews, most of whom are poor, who remain faithful to God despite the terrible conditions in which they are living in exile. Their faith is so strong that even in the midst of oppression, they do not blame God for their suffering and continue to keep holy the Sabbath even if it means further punishment for them and their children.
The prophet Jeremiah recognizes these “leftovers,” this remnant and assures them that God will preserve them in faith and lead them back to the land of Israel where they will prosper and increase. It is a marvelous promise not only to the remnant of Israel but for us because God promises everyone, even those who have abandoned their faith, that the fidelity of the remnant will be enough for the good shepherd to lead everyone home.
One of the great gifts of ministry is encountering remnants everywhere. They are the largely unrecognized and forgotten people in every parish who manage to survive and even celebrate the unwelcome change in pastors, liturgy or religious education programs. Their faith is rooted, not in a particular person, no matter how good a person they might be, but in the realization that God is present among us no matter how broken we might appear or seem.
Today, ask for the gift of fidelity no matter how difficult your circumstances.
How do you remain faithful to God in the midst of a church that is so obviously struggling?