Tag Archives: New covenant

Living in Covenant (Lent 2B, 1 March 2015)

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Romans 4.13–25
Mark 8.31–38


There is something very precious that our western, neoliberal society is in danger of losing. I am speaking of the need human beings have to live together in covenantal ways. We have a need to make covenants with one another.

I have a bible dictionary that defines ‘covenant’ as

a formal agreement or treaty between two parties in which each assumes some obligation.

When someone says ‘covenant’, many people think first of the covenant of marriage. You know,

Mary, will you give yourself to Fred,
to live together in the covenant of marriage?
Will you love him, comfort him,
honour and protect him,
and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him,
as long as you both shall live?

Marriage fits the bill. It is certainly ‘a formal agreement […] between two parties in which each assumes some obligation’. (And there really are times when marriage may seem to be more like a treaty…)

Marriage isn’t the only relationship I would describe as a covenant. Let me name friendship as an informal kind of covenant. True friendship can join people together in ways which involve a mutual obligation on both parties through time, perhaps through a whole lifetime. In covenantal ways. The companionship of friends in good times, and the support good friends offer in hard times therefore has a ‘covenant’ aspect.

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‘We would see Jesus’ (Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B, 25 March 2012)

‘We would see Jesus’

Jeremiah 31.31-34
John 12.20-33

Way back in 1939, Winston Churchill said this of Russia: it is

a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

I feel the same way about today’s Gospel story. It’s a riddle. It’s a mystery. It’s an enigma.

Some ‘Greeks’ come to Philip and say, ‘Sir, we would see Jesus.’

Fair enough… But when Jesus hears about it, he seems to go off at a tangent. He says:

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

You’d think he’d sit down with these visitors from far away, or at least give them a number and tell them to wait in line. But his reply is a riddle. A mystery. An enigma. The hour has come…

Jesus has talked before about ‘the hour’. At Cana, when Mary asked him to fix the alcohol shortage, he said (John 2.4),

My hour has not yet come…

And he said (5.25),

Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

The course of Jesus’ life was heading to a climax, but not until the right time. Nothing could happen until ‘the hour’ had come (cf. 7.30, 8.20).

And with the Greeks, the hour had indeed come. What’s that about? The Greeks were the ‘other sheep’ that Jesus had spoken about (10.15-16):

I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

It was now time to bring all people together as one flock. It was time for the shepherd to lay down his life.

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