My heart will know - Reflections - 10-24-18

 Texts for Sunday, October 28, 2018
 Reformation Sunday

 Jeremiah 31:31-34
 Psalm 46
 Romans 3:19-28
 John 8:31-36

 My husband the environmental chemist loves theology. We often have challenging conversations over coffee. Hearing his deep, somewhat philosophical, and distinctly cosmic view of things keeps my brain fresh. I mention my husband because the book of Jeremiah is his favorite book of the Bible. For this post, I asked him why this book resonated with him. He told me that Jeremiah expresses how God’s heart is broken because the people don’t let God love them. They turn their backs on God.  That idea brought to mind a phrase from a hymn – God is saying “I the Lord of snow and rain, I have borne my people’s pain. I have wept for love of them. They turn away”*. 

Jeremiah was a prophet during some depressing and disastrous times for the remaining kingdom of Judah. The northern 10 tribes had been defeated and disappeared from the earth 200 years before this point in time. And now, Babylon was knocking on the door of the final two tribes that made up the southern kingdom.

In the end, Babylon will take away the foundation to the people’s religion and life: the temple, the king as leader, and the belief that Jerusalem was invincible. 

But, before that, Jeremiah spent years calling the nation to repentance. He warned of the consequences. But he also proclaimed God’s determination to do whatever was needed to restore and renew this relationship: I will be their God and they shall be my people. Only God’s action could overcome the people’s separation from God. God offered a new way to stay connected – not by the institutions of temple, throne, and city. Instead, God will put the relationship smack in the middle of the community as well as in the center of each individual; God will put the covenant in their hearts.

I love the “heart” language. It expresses so exquisitely God’s desire for intimacy and God’s vulnerability. 

We still break God’s heart. The day of Reformation reminds us that God, in steadfast love, is still determined to grace our hearts with promise and forgiveness. God will do… actually did do through the cross… whatever it takes to keep us close as individuals and as a people. And that is called grace.

Comments or questions always welcome!

* Here I Am, Lord; text and music by Daniel L. Schutte

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245