Hymn text by From Pratt's Collection, circa 1830-. View the full text of this hymn.

The gathering of scattered Israel makes me think of coming home, in the most perfect way.

I have experienced this type of homecoming a few times in my life: listening for the sounds of car tires in the gravel that signaled my siblings coming home for Christmas break from college; watching the lights of Phoenix materialize beneath the belly of the plane that brought me home from Europe the first time; the year we had our first family reunion as siblings. This is the type of homecoming that feels so bright and sharp that you could laugh and cry and dance in the same moment.

In Jeremiah 31, the Lord promises to gather the posterity of Jacob from where they have been scattered: from the north country to the coasts of the earth, leading the blind and lame and pregnant in a great, happy company where “they shall not sorrow any more at all.”

This homecoming, this gathering, means bringing scattered Israel together through missionary work and asking them join an enormous, loving family where there is a place set for everyone at the table. And I believe that is what keeps people asking for answers, wanting to know life’s purpose and the strength of family ties.

It is this promise of belonging and finally seeing an end to our unbelief and misery and sorrow that eventually draws people to Christ, like scattered safety pins cling to a magnet.

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