From my sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Lent:
We read Jeremiah’s consoling words that promise a “New Covenant.” Prior to this, Jeremiah has outlined the people’s disobedience to the Covenant made with them when the Lord brought them out of slavery in Egypt. They have violated the Ten Commandments of Sinai. The wealthy and powerful have established policies abused the poor. They have fostered an increasing dependency on weapons of war rather than pursuing strategies for peace. Judgment has arrived with the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of those who were its most privileged residents.
Now they are about to be taken into exile in Babylon. But after those days, in the not too distant future, God will establish a new relationship with his people and their sins will be forgiven. God promises to stay with his creation no matter what. The difference is that this time, God will not write the covenant on tablets of stone, but will implant it in their hearts and minds, an internalized covenant, so that they will know and love God on the grounds of their own personal experience and stewardship of life. God will, in the words of our Psalm today “create a clean heart and renew a right spirit within them.”
Now on this fifth Sunday in Lent we can see the horizon of Holy Week before us, and we will see just how far God is willing to go to stay in relationship with his creation, with the world that he loves. On the hard wood of the cross, we will once again witness the mystery of an unending love that fires the universe we live in, a redemptive love that has the power to transform the human heart and make all things new. And brothers and sisters, how desperately our world needs to see and know that love today.
Listen to the Sermon here. How would you describe the difference between a Law externally written and one written on the heart? What do you think about practicing justice, kindness, and humility in response to recent violent events in our country?