My second thought goes to a sentiment we heard in greater volume last year. Some suggest that the Church goes through a major reformation approximately every 500 years. We saw this happen with the schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church in the 1000's. We saw this happen again with the Protestant Reformation in the 1500's. Perhaps we are living through a new reformation here in the 2000's. It's hard to say what this reformation will look like because we are in the midst of the transition, which may be why the Church is facing many challenges today.
What else can we say as we approach Reformation Sunday 2018? Below, in italics, are some of my thoughts regarding the readings for Sunday. I invite you to add your own thoughts and questions in the comments below.
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, 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.
- Jeremiah 31:32 refers to the covenant with Moses. In striking this covenant, the Lord gave to the people (through Moses) the Ten Commandments. This is the covenant the people broke. This is the covenant we continue to break, even if grew up reciting it every Sunday morning in Sunday School.
- Does Jeremiah 31:33 become a better indicator of the Gospel if we read it as the Lord putting the Lord’s “instruction” in our hearts? Hearing the word “law” in this statement may pull us away from reading this as a precursor to “the new covenant in (Jesus’) blood.”
- Is there an example of “know(-ing) the Lord” through the Lord’s forgiveness?
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD; see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 "Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth."
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
- Psalm 46 is the textual basis for Martin Luther’s famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
- “God is in the midst of the city.” The psalmist was writing about the Lord’s presence on Earth, specifically in Jerusalem. We can also hear this as a vision of the Lord in the midst of the New Jerusalem (i.e. heaven). Which image is more comforting for you? Why this image over the other one?