Therefore, this covenant which I will make with the house of Israel following those days, says the Lord, I will give My Law in their minds and on their hearts I will write it, and I will be their God and they will be my people.
He will be our God and we, His people. Who is your god? Where are God Almighty’s people? These are the questions that the Reformation 500yrs ago grappled with and sought to answer. A question of relationship. In those times there was corruption, lies, and fear; Pope’s proclaimed celibacy and mercy while putting their children in places of power and waging war across Italy, monks teaching that money buys forgiveness, and that Bubonic plague had swept through Europe killing even some of Luther’s friends. What gods held sway over the people in all this? What did people rely on and look to for help in times of need? Who could they put their trust in, their faith in? In Fame, Fortune, fun, in their rulers? Our Reformational answer: in Christ.
For He made a promise, a promise of Life and Purity to His Bride the Church. That He would wash her clean (Ephesians 5:26), and teach her the Truth (John 16:13), and destroy her enemies (Romans 12:19). After all Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). And He fulfills the Word of God in the Old Testament, the Messiah, God and man, come to seek and save the lost. After the days of Exile, which God foretells through Jeremiah, a new covenant would be made, a new relationship, a betrothal, a marriage. This Covenant, says the Lord, means His Law in your mind, His Word on your heart; it means He is your God and you His people; it means a new relationship, a union, and because there’s lots of us, a common union, or for us lazy Australians always shortening words, Communion, Holy Communion. “In the same way He took the cup and said, take and drink, this is My Blood of the New Covenant, shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sins” (Matthew 26:28).
In these strange times we hear again of corruption, of lies, of fear all across the world, let alone just central Europe. We see people put their faith in policies, in media, in money, in family, in medicine; not that these are bad things, they’re given by God, and yet we know the 1st commandment: You will have no other gods before me. What does this mean? I will fear, love and trust in God Almighty more than anything else. And what are these ‘gods’ our Lord is forbidding us from fearing? In his longer reflection Luther writes, ‘anything you look to for all good things and run to in times of trouble, that is your god’. And you know people whose work is their life, people who serve drug addiction in everything they do, people who value money above all else. Often they are more faithful to their gods than we are to ours. Yet we are called to a different life, not to be people of wealth, people of security, or people of power instead people of The Lord, God Almighty. After all He has promised Himself to you in Baptism; now betrothed we, as part of the Church, await the consummation of that Mystical Union between Christ and His Bride, the Church, at the end of this World, the wedding feast of the lamb (Revelation 19:7-10). But He does not just promise us marriage then leave, no, in every Holy Communion we have a foretaste of the feast to come; like a couple engaged might go for coffee, Christ comes to us, to be with us, Body and Blood, truly present, uniting us to Himself and all Christians. In Holy Communion He is purifying us, making us true, and uniting us with Him in love, so we have no need of fear. This precious gift, this time with our Beloved Saviour and all our brothers and sisters across this world and those who’ve gone before, this is our hope.
This New Covenant, this wonderful new relationship, our betrothal in Holy Baptism and in Holy Communion a foretaste of the Consummation at the end of this world, this is what we are about. 500yrs ago, people were kept from receiving Christ’s Most Holy Blood, the Blood of the covenant for the forgiveness of sins. And for 3 months we have refrained from this wonderfully special time with Christ here together. Yet now we can receive this precious gift from God together. Proclaiming our faith in Him as we take our God on our lips, as The Lord Jesus Christ comes to us His people. For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep in His care. It is not money, nor power, nor politicians, doctors, freedom, safety, or yourself who gives you life. It is Christ. Listen to Him. Speak to Him. Look to Him in every circumstance with thanksgiving, joy and requests. In this New Covenant, this new relationship, look to Him for all good things and run to Him in times of trouble. For He is our God, and by His grace and mercy, we are His people.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now unto our wedding feast with the Lamb. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.