This Lenten season, our sermon series has guided us through an introspective time using the lens of Rehab. Following scriptures from the Revised Common Lectionary, we have explored: wilderness, intervention, program, recovery, and promise.
We conclude this Lenten series exploring God’s promise to God’s people. This journey of Rehab has helped us to consider our own spiritual health, and this final message will help us to focus beyond the wilderness and to look toward hope. The text for this Sunday from the prophet Jeremiah is as relevant today as it was some 2600 years ago when these words were first given to God’s people as they were in exile.
As the Israelites were in the wilderness of exile, God promised them: It gets better. And as we have found ourselves driven into wilderness – of pain, of addiction, of doubt, of fear – God promises us: It gets better.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (CEB)
31The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34They will no longer need to teach each other to say, “Know the Lord!” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord; for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.
Consider these questions:
- How do you experience the idea of promise leading to hope?
- Is it hard to believe in God’s promise when facing difficulties?
Post-Sermon Update on 3/20
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
This conclusion to the Lenten series has been intended to guide us through this wilderness period toward the celebration of resurrection. It has not been meant to shield or distract us from wilderness, but to help us to live in it, to experience it, and perhaps even to find that we are nourished and cared for in the midst of it.
The recounting of the Babylonian exile in Jeremiah’s time and the experience of negative anticipation may be something we feel – or have felt – for ourselves. We may find it difficult to see even a glimmer of hope during these times. But Jeremiah’s writings remind us that God’s promise is reliable because it is not based on our own frailties and failures. God’s promise is within us, written on our hearts. Through God’s Holy Spirit, we experience grace and forgiveness and healing and love. And this is offered to us all – from the greatest of us to the least of us.
The time is coming, says the Lord. May we look forward to God’s promise with hope.
Consider these questions:
- Where does the desire for spiritual rehab begin? Is it something we discover? Is it something we’re told we must do? Or does it start when we pay attention to God’s voice that calls us to health and wholeness?
- What is God’s role in your spiritual rehab?
- Has this series helped you move through the steps of wilderness, intervention,
program, recovery, and promise? How?
- Has this series helped you prepare for Palm Sunday and Easter? How?