(Based on Jeremiah 31:31-34)
[For two readers or may be used as a responsive reading for the entire congregation]
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. (Jeremiah 31:31, NRSV)
What is the best way to mark a new beginning? What determines whether a relationship has changed or not?
It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt . . . (Jeremiah 31:31a, NRSV)
Is it enough to simply write a list of all the new behaviors and declare, "I've changed?"
I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts . . . (Jeremiah 31:33b)
Is it enough to attend a certain number of counseling sessions? Or does true change well up on the inside until it overwhelms you, and people old and young know they can trust the new you, you've become.
Can we trust each other? Do we trust God? Can God trust us?
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 31:34b, NRSV)
A Prayer of Confession
(Based on on Psalm 51:1-12)
I now know, I can't escape -- myself. I know my ways, good and bad. I'm with me all day: hearing me talk, hearing me think, watching me do what I should despise. I acted as if you wouldn't notice. I was wrong.
Restore me. Show me the joy of your salvation. Create a new, willing spirit within me. Forgive me. Have mercy on me. Cleanse me and welcome me back into your loving arms.
Words of Assurance
Hear these words. The Lord is merciful and kind. God delights in repentance and forgives. Receive God's grace and mercy. Walk now in the joy of your salvation.
(Based on John 12:20-33)
Lord of us all, we come before you because we trust you. This week, some of us have had to trust you through trials. Some of us learned to trust you when we thought we wouldn't make it. Some of us trusted that you alone saw us when we felt like a lone seed about to fall to the ground unnoticed.
Though the world believes we're dead, revive us.
Though our life looks spent, bear fruit through us.
Though we're tempted to follow the world, show us a better direction.
Remind us that even when we suffer, we can survive. Regardless of our circumstances, let our voices thunder, "hallelujah anyhow."
This we pray in the name of the One who overcame death, hell and the grave, Jesus Christ. Amen.