Write It on Our Hearts
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: 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. – Jeremiah 31:33 (NRSV)
Jeremiah’s first missives to the exiles in Babylon were a little depressing. “You caused your own problems, and no wonder God is mad at you, so please do suffer while you’re in that strange place, out of reach of God, who is—have I mentioned it?—out of sorts with you.” His words for the crowd left behind under Babylonian occupation were no more cheerful. “You never listen to what I tell you. What can you expect but more trouble?”
Time went by, and God came around with another message for Jeremiah, the promise of a new covenant. God wants to work things out with us. We are saved by our relationship with God—not just from slavery in Egypt, or captivity in Babylon, but also from isolation and sin, and despair over the state of the world.
Which message about God are we supposed to believe?
In the many months we did not worship in person, I grappled with these extremes. Sometimes my head had to talk my heart back into believing, because the cues I depended on in every other difficult season of life were missing: the familiar rituals and the voices raised in song.
Said my head to my heart: look for what is written inside. God has put it there. God is there. We are God’s people. If we grasp nothing else from the totality of scripture, may we hold onto this.
God of Love, help us to know what you have written on our hearts. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, from The Pilgrim Press.