The text is Jeremiah’s invoking of a new covenant. The sermon attempts to think about what we are talking about when we say the word covenant. What a covenant is is the Hebrew answer to the question: “How does God interact with man?” There are a bunch of other answer to that question. The sermon starts out cataloging some of them and how they came about. But the Hebrew answer is unique. And the Christian answer is the Hebrew answer.
The trouble that Jeremiah is experiencing is similar I think to what we might be experiencing today. Just how good does the answer of the covenant fit with how we experience God? A big part of the word covenant is simply a way that God binds himself. If the covenants appear to be failing, as they could appear to Jeremiah, in what way is the God who bound himself actually God? Jeremiah’s prophecy is “the new covenant”, not a breaking of the old ones, but their fulfillment. And that fulfillment is in Jesus Christ. Christ has always been the fulfillment, but in the new covenant we have the greater revelation written on our hearts. It is no longer blood on the external posts and lintels, but blood taken in. The fulfillment is no longer an external obedience, but the obedience of the heart through faith.
It’s the shortest season in the church year, 12 days, from Christmas day until Epiphany. But within that short season there are some interesting minor commemorations.
Dec 26th – The Feast Day of St. Stephen, protomartyr or the first martyr. Luke gives him two chapters, Acts 6:8 – 8:3 and maybe a little of the psychology that lead to St. Paul.
Dec 28th – Holy Innocents, Martyrs The picture above is Bruegel’s depiction of the event. I always appreciated how Bruegel could bring biblical events to Flemish towns. In the midst of the landscapes that we know all too well, something profound takes place. There has always been for me a profound lesson in that. Here, these stories are timeless, because they tell us something about ourselves and the Truth. And now they are yours. You are their keepers and teachers and livers. Are you Stephen who inspires Paul, or are you Herod? How will you keep them?
Jan 1st – Circumcision and Name of Jesus
That is a lot of blood. The Christ child came, was incarnated, in flesh and blood. And blood in this world gets spilled and spent. The question to you on this Childermas, is how do you spill yours? As Martyrs and witnesses or to make full the sin? For most of us that is a metaphorical question. We won’t be martyrs. But who are our saints that the Augsburg Confession says, “we may imitate their faith and good works according to our calling.” How is your blood spent, or who is your blood?