Thought for the month
“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” (Jeremiah 31:33)
The external covenant at Mount Sinai was etched in stone – an ark was built to tight specifications to carry this covenant, sacrifices were spelled out in great detail – but now it will be engraved within the human heart.
In this context the word from which we translate ‘law’ can also mean ‘teaching’ or ‘instruction’ – it actually carries with it a sense of grace encouraging people, through this teaching to live in stability and harmony.
Augustine suggested that the law teaches us how to love. As the psalmist says: “”the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” However, just like Jeremiah seems to sense, there is something in the idea of law that we tend to resist.
By writing this teaching on our hearts it is as if God is bypassing that resistance – it is like feeling the law of God, goodness and love of God deep within us.
We should, therefore, no longer need to look to external standards for realising how much we love God – for in this new covenant we, as it were, know truly how much we love God – or otherwise.
Do read the whole sermon that Rev Eddie Sykes preached on Jeremiah 31:31–34 at our Joint Covenant Service on 27 January 2019 at this link.
The image used is adapted from one at a Pax Christi blog.
Our thought for this season of Epiphany, and indeed for the whole of this New Year of 2019, comes from a sermon on Matthew 2.1–13 preached in Chelmsford Cathedral on 6 January 2019 by the Rt Rev John Perumbalath, recently appointed Area Bishop of Bradwell, in Chelmsford diocese:
“… the wise men in our story are a persisting lot. They were probably not very clear about what they were heading for. They had a sign but they lost it on the way. It was then possibly a path of uncertainty and darkness. But these wise men never gave up. They did not abandon their journey in the face of obvious obstacles on the way. In the absence of any clear guideline, they made mistakes ending up in a wrong place. But their persistence took them till the end of the road.
“We do not encounter God because we do not persevere in seeking him. We look for him in certain obvious places and when we do not find him there we give up. We are not willing to take long journeys in unfamiliar territories of our lives. In a world of instant things where we are able to receive instant food and instant clothing, we also look for instant solutions to our spiritual problems. We expect instant peace and instant happiness and then grow very uneasy and impatient in our journey. The feast of the Epiphany says, ‘never give up’.”
Throughout December, the daily blog on the website of one of your webmaster’s friends, Rev Geoff Bland, has been picking up some of the thoughts from Sinclair B. Ferguson’s book “Love came down at Christmas”.
In an earlier Thought for the Month, we invited you to join us in preparing for Christmas by reflecting on the coming of God’s love into our world through the birth of Jesus, and to find out more about how that love can change each of our lives.
Now Christmas has come, further good news is that Geoff is continuing his series of blogs during the Twelve Days of Christmas, looking each day at a saying of Jesus in which he says why he came. As before these will be short, a quick and easy read, but hopefully with some good food for thought for post-Christmas digestion. You can read the blog at this link, where you can also sign up for a daily email.