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  • Rev. Sarina Odden Meyer

God with Us: New Covenant & Faith Sharing

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Hebrews 10:1-4,11-25

Psalm 37:23-31

Thank you Fred, for sharing part of your faith journey with us this morning. I want to take a moment to talk about our Scriptures and tie them together with Fred’s story.

This is the last week of our sermon series about God with Us. We have heard a lot in the last few weeks about God making covenants and promises with the whole world, with Abraham and his descendants, and then with the nation of Israel. We have learned how God is with us through these covenants. Today, our Scriptures make God’s presence with us even more personal. In all three Scripture passages today we learn about a new covenant that God will make with God’s people. The covenant with the 10 Commandments was written on stone tablets. In Psalm 37:31 it says, “The law of their God is in their hearts.” In Jeremiah 31 it says that God will make a new covenant with the people and in verse 33 God says, “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.” We see in the Old Testament that God was planning to deepen and make more personal God’s presence with God’s people by writing the law on their hearts. Then we read in the letter to the Hebrews that this passage from Jeremiah was interpreted by the early church to be fulfilled in Jesus.

In the Hebrews passage we have references to an aspect of the law that required blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. It says in verse 4 that at the temple, priests would sacrifice, “bulls and goats to take away sins.” But then it says in verse 12 that, “Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins.” The Letter to the Hebrews is telling us that blood sacrifice is no longer needed for sins because this was fulfilled in Jesus’ death. And then in verses 16-17, it quotes from our Jeremiah text to say that through Jesus our relationship with God has become more personal. The law is written on our hearts. Through Jesus our sins are forgiven and God dwells within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. This means that even though we are not perfect, even though we make mistakes, even though we fall short, God is continually working in our hearts to transform us. God is continually working with us, as if we are clay and God is a potter, to form us more and more into the image and likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a lot that can be said about this new covenant, but I don’t have very much time this morning so I am only going to pull out one thing. The thing I want us to remember from these Scriptures today is that God meets us where we are, each of us individually. God works within us to help us to follow Jesus, to learn who we are in Christ. When we seek God, God meets us just where we are, God respects who we are (because God made us in God’s own image), and as Psalm 23 says, God leads us on a path of righteousness for God’s namesake.

This aspect of the new covenant in Christ, that God meets us where we are, was very poignant in Fred’s faith sharing. Especially so for me as I listened because God has done very similar things in my own life, but in totally different ways. The themes that I heard as Fred spoke were about seeking his identity in Christ and through that search learning that he has leadership gifts and learning how to use them in the places where he has been called at this time in his life, specifically in his family.

God has done similar work in my own life, but in very different ways. For Fred, he was able to connect with God on a deep level outdoors, whereas I have found that deep connection with God in books. Fred described being so encouraged in his faith journey by being with a large group of men, whereas for me God has brought encouragement in my faith journey through Brett and through the congregation at Briarwood, through you! Fred also described finding his identity in Christ by understanding himself as a man of God, whereas for me, I have found my identity in Christ by understanding myself as a person of God. I came to Christ in college into a very patriarchal church and kept being told that women were not allowed to lead in the Christian tradition. It has been through Brett and through the congregation at Briarwood - through you! - that God has taught me that God gave me leadership gifts and that God is calling me to use them in my family, and in the church, and that my gender has nothing to do with it. It has been through Brett and through you guys that God has taught me to let go of that teaching from my first church and let God work through me. This has been a hugely positive and formative experience for me learning who I am in Christ Jesus.

When I heard Fred’s story and thought about my own I marvel at God. God is helping us both learn how to be the leaders that God created us to be, by taking us on very different paths to the same goal, which is, learning who we are in Christ Jesus.

Our God has made a new covenant with us in Jesus in which the law is written on our hearts. God is with us in a very personal way: God dwells within us and meets us where we are. Where are you in your life? What gifts and talents has God given to you? God gave all of us gifts and talents. How is God meeting you where you are, to lead you in your faith journey? How is God teaching you who you are in Christ? These questions are relevant at every stage of our lives. We are always changing, and God is always meeting us exactly where we are. Amen.

#GodwithUs #Jeremiah31 #Hebrews10 #FaithSharing #Psalm37

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