Words By Heart

Readings: Psalm 80:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 10:10-18

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  NRSV

An unexpectedly large crowd showed up for the Parkway Orchestra’s holiday concert a couple weeks back, and my husband and I got the last program booklet. It was filled with the usual ads, musician names, and the order of music to be performed. It also had two pages of Christmas carol lyrics for the singalong. When it came time to sing, I let my husband keep the program – I’ve sung the songs so many times over the decades that I knew the words by heart. No need to look at a piece of paper for something written in my heart and mind.

I’ve spent just as many decades reading scripture and going to church as I have singing Jingle Bells and Good King Wenceslas. I’ve committed to memory prayers and creeds, theological points and counterpoints, and a good number of psalms. I’ve broken faith with most of the commandments at some point or other, if not in the literal sense at least within the confines of my heart and imagination – this, in spite of God’s faithfulness to me. So what needs to be written on my heart for me to live the holy life God offers to me every day? I can’t say in a definitive sense (I’ve yet to achieve anything close to transfiguration or deification), but here’s my definition-in-progress:

God loves me more than I will ever understand. No matter what happens, I am never lost to God. God loves you more than I will ever understand. No matter what happens, you are never lost to God. You and I will only find complete joy in each other’s company, in the embrace of God….and we are already there, we just haven’t learned it by heart yet.

If this law of love is written on my heart, there’s no one and nothing I won’t know as God’s own beloved. And my beloved, too.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

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