Advent Devotion – Thursday December 20
Rev. Dr. Robert Stephen Reid is Emeritus Director of Master of Communication program in Organizational Communication and Leadership, University of Dubuque, IA
“In That Day” is Our Day
31 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. 32 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. 33 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. 34 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. (New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Also see: Hebrews 10:10–18, Psalm 80:1–7
We who engage in table fellowship with Christ know Jesus’ Cup of Blessing words: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). We eat of the bread remembering Christ’s passion for us. But should drink the cup remembering the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, who promised the house of Israel and the house of Judah that a new covenant would be established where no sin offering would ever be needed again. Why? Because in that day God would place a hunger in the hearts of people to know the Lord and pursue the ways of faith.
The writer of the New Testament letter to the Hebrews returns to this image several times to make it clear that with Christ’s death an end came to any idea that God needs to be appeased by a sin offering. Jesus’ death on the cross vanquished the powers of darkness that ruin the world with sin. But for all who believe now, history was cleaved by that cross of Christ. The forgiveness it makes possible leans forward because God promised through it to “remember their sin no more.”
Perhaps your Advent celebration will culminate in a time of sharing a communion meal with Christ and fellow Christians. Gratefully confess your failings to God, knowing that because all of history now leans forward in Christ, you are already forgiven. Then take the cup, rejoicing that the promised made by the prophet and fulfilled in Christ, includes you. That is the essence of the Advent blessing.
O God, may we who come to your table this Advent season know how privileged we are to live what a prophet could only once dream—as people forgiven because you desire our confession of sin more than our obeisance because of it. Free us to live into that privilege unencumbered by the fear of our failings, trusting that you long to accomplish redemptive work in our lives as people willing to lean into this vision of your reign and realm in our lives. Amen.