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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, December 23, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | 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. (NRSV)

Anybody who learned to drive in Illinois is familiar with the book Rules of the Road. When we were in high school driver’s education we studied it as if it were a sacred text, because it offered us our gateway to freedom.

If we passed our driver’s test, we would be free. Our parents would give us our own set of car keys, allowing us, within reason, to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

It was a scary time for both us and our families as we put the memorized rules into practice. There were moments when we were tentative, offset by moments when we were overconfident. Eventually, driving became second nature as we internalized the “rules of the road” and put them into practice.

Jeremiah speaks of such a time in the life of faith when the commandments of God become written not just on tablets of stone but on our hearts. It is when they become a part of us that we can begin to understand them as God’s will and way for our life as naturally as we remember to signal for a right turn.

As Christians we believe that God is revealed in Jesus—whose birth we are about to celebrate. In him, as one commentator reminds us, “we see God not under the cover of darkness but as the light of the world.”

Guided by this Light then what shall we do? The commandments he reminded us of—the great shema—can be our rules of the road: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and then “love your neighbor as yourself.”

That’s it! Keep our hearts focused on God and our hands on the wheel.

We thank you, O God, that in Jesus Christ you have come among us and met us along the road. Keep our hearts set on you so that we may travel safely in lives that are centered on you, and guide us along your path of peace. Amen.

Written by David Nelson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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