Jeremiah 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.

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. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31:31-34

Growing up in North Dakota I was all about the Minnesota Twins. I was vaguely aware of a team called the Chicago Cubs. A bit like my awareness today of the Florida Marlins. They exist but I know nothing about their history of their fan base.

My only connection with Chicago Cubs fans would be my memory of the 1987 Twins. They snuck into the World Series after winning only 85 games in the season. I remember the growing fever pitch around town and the organist in our seminary chapel, Mark Sedio, playing a fugue based on the Twins theme song when we gathered for worship the morning after the Twins won.

Yes, baseball is trivial compared to life for the people of Israel who languished in Babylon with their fading memories of “back home” and the stories of the brutality their elders faced following the destruction of Jerusalem. The early chapters of Jeremiah detail the slow burn of an invading army outside of the city gates demanding tribute from the Jewish leaders. Until finally the Babylonians had enough. The army was needed back home. So to hold their territory, they took vast numbers of Israelis on a forced march back to Babylon with them. The Exile.

That pain was real pain, far more devastating and humiliating than waiting 108 years for another World Series title. But hopelessness is hopelessness…yet neither the people of Israel nor true Cubs fans ever completely lost hope. Their day would come. God wouldn’t forget them.

So the tenor of the book of Jeremiah changes. From the warnings and the attacks of the earlier chapters, suddenly Jeremiah speaks out from the midst of the exiles. God will not forget you. A new day is coming. God will not turn his face away from you forever.

No one is born a baseball fan. Someone has to teach that. It begins with a ball, years have to pass before a glove and a bat are added. Anyone can learn to throw and catch and hit. Some are “naturals” and others will either never be interested or never be that great. It takes time to learn the rules, a lifetime to learn the intricacies. But to truly love a team, to live and die with a team, to yell at a television screen, or tell everyone around a radio to hush so you can listen, to drive the miles to a stadium, to lay the cash out for a ticket (or to know the right person who has access to tickets) – all of that has to be learned. It is modeled in our elders. It is passed down through stories. It becomes our heart language.

The promise here in Jeremiah is that devotion to God is passed on just like devotion to baseball. But metaphors are metaphors and they all break down. I can’t remember who won the World Series three years ago, I would have to look it up. But the assurance that God will never let us go, that God has brighter days ahead for us, that God is forgiveness and love – that has been written on my heart. I don’t have to look it up to be reminded. I just need to see it modeled even as I model it for others.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, our lives today are so good. There is so much we take for granted. We know there are so many today who experience life so differently – terrified refugees climbing into boats or walking down dusty roads to places that don’t want them and don’t have room, starving Haitians still digging out from what a hurricane left behind, people struggling in the face of disease and poverty, people living in their own version of exile. Where ever there is such suffering, we pray that you bring hope, bring help, bring healing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Jeremiah 31:31-34”

  1. Dave Aemstrong Says:

    Amen!! I need this message today !!!

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