Written On The Heart

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?

Birds Flew Over The Spire

Here is a lovely short piece written by the British Classical Guitarist and Composer Gary Ryan.  I’m using a new guitar, an Andreas Kirmse Cedar Double-top.  Andreas is a German Luthier living in France and his guitars have exceptional warmth and playability.

I Will Remember

A Sermon for the First Sunday of Lent.

 “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6).

The opening theme of this story is that the creation has refused to be the creation God has hoped for. God has called the world into being to be in partnership with him.  He wills unity, harmony, and goodness in his creation.  In the first chapter of Genesis we see God pronouncing a benediction on each stage of  the unfolding creation: “It is good.  It is very good.”  But just four chapters later, instead of a benediction we now read, “I will blot out.”  This story provides a way for the authors of Genesis to reflect on this fundamental fracture in the relationship between God and God’s creation.

We are not to read it as literal history, but more as a parable of God’s persistence in relating to his creation, and perhaps it is a parable that reveals a God who also learns and grows with his creation, so much so that God makes a covenant to stay in relationship with all created things no matter what and that this steadfast love creates the possibility for real change in our lives and in our future.

Full sermon here.