Today is Monday the 12 March, in the Fourth Week of Lent
Prayer of Presence:
Tender Shepherd, bring to my awareness your constant companionship, to my weariness your matchless strength, to my brokenness your healing touch, and to my joy your blessing. Amen.
40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job, p. 130
Scripture: Today’s reading is from Jeremiah 31:31-34
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. 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, says the LORD. 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. 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.
Betrayal of trust and covenants wreak emotional havoc on all parties involved. The willingness of an offended party to stay in a relationship when trust and covenants are betrayed by the other party is difficult at best. In this text, God recalls the egregious betrayal by the very people he saved from bondage and slavery in Egypt. The house of Israel broke covenant with God and had gone after other gods (Jeremiah 25:5-7). And yet, God reaches out to his people, willing to stay in a relationship with them even though they strayed away and their love for God failed. God promises to give his wayward people new heart that would enable and sustain their fidelity to God. But that is not all. God is so full of mercy, loving-kindness, and steadfast love for his wayward people. In addition, God promises to provide for them a future with hope, to answer their prayers, be present and available, end their captivity again, bring them home after a long exile, and to restore their fortunes (29:11-14).
What is surprising about this text is that God – the egregiously betrayed one – takes the unilateral initiative to forgive, forget the past, reconcile, and start anew! The apology of the people and their gratitude for God’s forgiving grace and steadfast love would be expressed with and through a newness of heart that would sustain their willingness to stay in love with God and not stray away again.
Partaking of Holy Communion as often as we can afford us the opportunity to remember God’s saving acts in Christ Jesus for us. Communion invites us to examine our hearts, our lives, and our relationships against the light, love, and life of Jesus Christ. We can carefully look back at our week or month, face up to our shortcomings, seek forgiveness, and ask for the grace to stay in love with God and stay in touch with the presence and power of Christ so we can fulfill our desire to live as a faithful disciple.
Question for Reflection:
- Have you ever strayed away from God? What happened? How did God bring you back and restore the relationship?
- Do you have an increased desire to stay in love with God?
Prayer Focus: For the grace to stay in love with God by attending to the practices that keep our relationship with God vital, alive, and growing.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.