The pandemic has shut down lots of things over the past year, churches are just a part of that. And it’s not only about services, of course, it’s events, dinners, small groups. Yes, being “the church” isn’t about a place or a building and we are discovering new ways of being connected. Still, for a church like ours that believes we may not have all the answers to life’s questions but we’re part of the journey to finding some, the loss of conversation and discussion is a very big loss indeed.
Recently, someone told me how much they were missing in-person bible study and I said that, soon as we’re able to get together again, we should have a bible study on the book of Job. I mean, who suffered more than Job, right? Hmm. I’ve thought about that a bit and I’m mistaken. We need to look at Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was a prophet through some pretty difficult times for the Hebrew people, including the defeat and conquest of their nation, the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the exile of people to Babylon. It was a time that people had moved away from God, even to the point that Jeremiah says that they’ve broken their covenant with God. Jeremiah is full of gloom, sadness and despair, enough to earn him the nickname “the weeping prophet” for the grief he and his people shared.
Great, Robin, bring us down some more. That’ll be what we need to hear.
That’s not why. It’s because Jeremiah turns to hope. In fact, Jeremiah says that God offers a new covenant, one that will be written on the heart of each person. “The days are surely coming,” says God, when I’ll make a new covenant that will be different from the ones we’ve had before, the ones that have been broken or forgotten, that were written in stone. Instead of being a covenant that builds on behaviour, it’ll begin where we all begin: in the heart. And through it, the people will truly know God.
By whatever name you call God, knowing is more than knowledge or understanding, it’s an awareness of what God is and finding that “is” in ourselves, in our own heart, mind and soul, with every fibre of our being. That means we begin with love and we live in love and we live out love in all things.
Christians interpret Jeremiah’s prophecy as being fulfilled in Jesus, the one who shows us how to live the love that is in each us. That’s why it’s so important to understand Jesus as one of us, not set apart, so that we can see that we are one with Jesus and each other and creation. We are unique and individual, but our hearts, like Jesus, hold all the divinity and humanity that is love and grace. It’s written there for us to share.
“The days are surely coming,” says God. They are. Hope says that’s a certainty. Jesus framed it as “heaven is near.” Perhaps the days are still to come, though we see glimpses, every day, of what it means to live love. But perhaps we’re still learning. Jesus, and others, have pointed out that we are created of God and of the earth. That same divinity which is Jesus is in you already. Has been since the beginning. What we need to work on is our awareness of it. That, and our willingness to live it, is our part of the new covenant. How are you doing your part?