Old covenant, new covenant…

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holy-communion

(Before I begin I’d like to ask you to pray for me. Allergens are at ridiculously high levels right now and it’s got me down. Went to the doctor yesterday, got a steroid shot and some new meds in addition to what I already had. Doesn’t seem to have helped much. Since this pollen season (mostly ragweed) does not really end until November, I need all the help I can get.)

Lamentations 2:17 The Lord has done what he purposed, he has carried out his threat; as he ordained long ago, he has demolished without pity…  Should women eat their offspring, the children they have borne? Should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord? 21 The young and the old are lying on the ground in the streets; my young women and my young men have fallen by the sword; in the day of your anger you have killed them, slaughtering without mercy. 

This is a gruesome passage from the writer of Lamentations. V.17 says, “(God) has carried out his threat… he has demolished without pity.” As a consequence of Israel’s disobedience to God and the law of Moses, Jerusalem was under siege. The people were running out of food. Eventually the city would be sacked, the inhabitants killed or sent into exile as slaves, the temple of God destroyed, the riches of the treasury stolen. There would be much blood on the streets – the blood of God’s people.

One of my favorite parts of the liturgy for holy communion the part when the presiding minister speaks over the bread and wine. After words are spoken over the bread, the presiding minister holds the cup in front of the congregation and says, “This is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sins.”

The first covenant (the old covenant of the law) required the blood of animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. But eventually human wickedness became so great that such sacrifices were no longer sufficient – which resulted in the blood of the people themselves being poured out. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen without our savior Jesus Christ, read Lamentations. This is the old covenant at work. But when God the Father sent Jesus the Son, a new covenant was made.

Instead of our blood being poured out, which would be appropriate given our sinfulness, Jesus shed his own blood on the cross. He paid the price for our sin, and through his resurrection has conquered death forever. Not only that, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, to transform us from the inside out, to draw us closer to God the Father. This is the new covenant at work.

Heavenly Father we thank you for the love you’ve shown to us through Jesus Christ. Give us grace to live for your glory, out of gratitude for your great sacrifice for us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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