31The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Most of us know this passage well. It speaks of a new covenant, one that is written not on tablets or in rainbows but woven into the very being of the people. The context in which this was written is probably following the exile. The cities have been breached, the temple has been totally destroyed, nothing is left of the people’s lives. They have become subjects of the Persian king and have lost everything that they had before. But God through the Prophet Jeremiah gives a vision of reconstruction and renewal. But this time things will be different…
We Christians like to read this with our Easter-colored lenses on. We Christians like to put on our post-Resurrection lens and read this with the view of Jesus, the Cross, and the empty tomb in our mind. Ah…we think, Jesus, Jesus is the new covenant. Jesus is the covenant that is written on our hearts. Jesus is the one. Is he? I mean, yes, Jesus IS the embodiment of the New Covenant. So we try our best to follow, to do what Jesus would do, to act like Jesus would act. We profess that we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. And then we sort of wait…we wait until Jesus comes or we go or whatever our belief system tells us is going to happen sometime up ahead. But, in the meantime, this covenant sort of eludes us. What happened to it being written on our hearts? What happened to it being part of us?
You know, when you think about it, did Jesus come as Emmanuel, God-With-Us, as one among us who took himself all the way to the Cross out of love for us just so that our belief system would change? Or did Jesus come to show us the Way to God, the way to write the covenant into our very being and become the embodiment of it ourselves? In other words, perhaps this life of faith, this way of being Covenant People, with hearts tattooed and all, is not just a life of profession of belief but one of following and living this Way to God so intently that we become it. Maybe it’s a way of living inside out.
So in this Lenten wilderness, we find our beliefs. They are there, time-tested and comfortable. We can memorize them; we can recite them; we can even talk about them on a good day when we think it’s appropriate and the audience is receptive. But the wilderness shows us that there is more. The wilderness exposes our heart. And there’s that covenant written into it. The wilderness shows us how to turn ourselves inside out and become the Way to God. So, the days are surely coming…maybe when that begins to be is up to us. Maybe, as we’ve said, we are the ones that we’ve been waiting for.
We live like ill-taught piano students. We are so afraid of the flub that will get us in dutch, we don’t hear the music, we only play the right notes. (Robert Capon)
FOR TODAY: Imagine the covenant written on your heart. Imagine BEING the embodiment of the Way to God. Now dance to the music.
Grace and Peace,