A New Covenant
Bible reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It 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,[g] says the Lord. 33 But 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. 34 No 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.
As I write this, I am aware that you will be reading it on 11 November, a day heavy with remembrance. Few of us have first-hand memories of World War Two these days. I still remember my Dad’s amazement that I studied the second world war as history; for him it was part of his life. However, as a nation we remember not only the world wars but those of more recent times.
This passage from Jeremiah is also about remembering; the people are called to remember their history, good and bad. For Methodists this is a familiar passage as it is central to our annual Covenant Service. For some that service is difficult, the covenant prayer is certainly challenging. People remember the times they have got it wrong rather than the loving God who calls them. That is why the last phrase of this passage is so important: ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more’ (v34).
How does any of this speak to us today? For many, remembering today is going to be painful, especially as we look back over the last year. Some will have lost loved ones, others, ways of life that they valued. Without wanting to minimise any of this, there are other memories too. The way we have come together in so many communities to help each other. The small kindnesses that have made us smile. The silence that has allowed us to hear birdsong, the slower tempo that has enabled us to stop and look. The remembrance of how essential relationships are.
Under all of this is the remembrance of a God who calls us to be his people, who chooses to forget the mistakes we make. The God who loves us with an everlasting love who will never break a promise. This God calls us to be the people he created us to be, encourages us to remember whose we are. That remembering will spur us on to reach out to others with love and care, so that they too will know God.
You have called us, each by name.
You never forget your love for us
and for your world.
We give thanks as we remember all who have helped us
over these last months:
the smiles and greetings of strangers;
the patience and good humour of those
working in so many ways to make life safe for us all.
May we never forget your love for us
and remember to do all we can to take that love to others.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
- Who might be feeling forgotten today? Can you make contact by phone or note?
- Who do you remember today for helping you over the last months? How might you say thank you?
- Spend time with God today; go for a walk look at creation and remember the Creator God.