Readings: Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 51:1-12, John 12:20-33
The covenant we hear in our Old Testament lesson today is the last in our Lenten series this year and embodies the unfolding intimacy of God’s relationship with God’s people.
The covenant Jeremiah is proclaiming looks forward to a day when the people of God do the good works of God because, they are driven by faith, not obligated under the law.
It is a day when God’s kingdom, and Christ’s presence is all over because we are living it—"God’s will be done on Earth”. The covenant looks to the day when we all know God because we are Christ’s body in the world—when we know God because we live in the presence of Christ.
Jesus uses the language of new covenant when he gives to his disciples his body and blood in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. The new covenant is for us, in our baptism and our life in Christ. In our baptismal covenant, and fed from the Lord’s table, God is with us, we are Christ’s body, and Jesus feeds us with himself. The words we hear when he shares the cup, “this cup is the new covenant, my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sin.”
The wonderful news and promise we hear in both these iterations of new covenant is that God will “remember our sin no more.” Now, this doesn’t mean that we are off the hook and that we go on sinning as much as we can because God won’t remember it or hold it against us.
Rather, it means that, through all our fault, God still chooses us as God’s partners. We are still God’s people, though we will continue to sin.
In the Lutheran tradition we call it: simul iustus et peccator; “we are, at the same time, saint and sinner.” We have an enormous capacity for good, for blessing the world and working with and for God.
And we have an enormous capacity for evil, to create suffering for ourselves and for others.
Anyone can see that people have both the potential for good and the propensity for evil, so as Christ’s people we claim it—we own it. We are saint and sinner. And the good news is that God, still, chooses us. God chooses to remain our God, to call us partners in mission, and to never leave our side.
God stays in relationship with us.
The new covenant of which Jeremiah speaks says that “all shall know God, starting from the least of them to the greatest.” Christ is alive and active, equipping us for being God’s agents in everything we do—all of us. God’s will for us in this new covenant is that we will be the church, so that the world will know God. Church isn’t just something to come to, to learn about God, but we ARE the church—Christ’s body, so that the world will know God.
Fellow sinners and saints, baptized in to Christ, you are God’s partners in blessing the world. There is nothing that will stop that from being true, and nothing that will prevent Christ from being with you wherever you go.
Go, be the blessing you are in the world, doing so in Christ’s name.