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.
Opening Prayer from J.S. Bach's Cantata No. 79; this was the choir anthem and our sending hymn – ELW 840.
Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers' arms
has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
Martin Rinkart, ca. 1636; translation by Catherine Winkworth
This year's Reformation Sunday / Reformation Day is Reformation 500! Class was less formal and structured than usual. We discussed God's promise of newness and restoration, of resurrection from the dead through the prophets—especially through 2nd Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
I mentioned how today's revised common lectionary texts fit well with Jesus' promise of constant presence with us via the gospel we received from John; how they mesh with this year's featured gospel according to Matthew that starts out with Emmanuel, God-with-us, concludes with Jesus' promise to be with us always and his Great Commission charge to us to be his witnesses and presence everywhere on earth. Over the past 4 weeks we studied passages from Philippians; today also fits well with the Apostle Paul's close identity with the crucified and risen Christ, his longing to be "in Christ' to such an degree he shares in Jesus' death and resurrection.
I asked again how we know God is with us; like last week, (for once) I wanted a specific answer: word and sacrament. Beyond a nice, calm, smug, or satisfied feeling, Word and Sacrament remain earthbound, physical evidence we can sense (smell, hear, taste, see, touch) God is here. With us.
Observations about Luther and other reformers acting as God's agent through the Holy Spirit of life, renewal, restoration, and resurrection. Church always is situated in place and time; we discussed the geography of how we're the only church on this plot of land, this longitude and latitude; talked about the chronology of countless other valid expressions of the church around the world, hundreds in this city.
I asked especially about dreams for LCM, for this neighborhood, and this city. All Saints' Sunday next week!