Advent of the New Covenant

Author: Jeffrey Keyes

An Article from the "Sonnino Notebook"

Advent of the New Covenant

We prepare to enter another celebration of the Advent of the New Covenant. God dwells among us in this new Covenant in a way so full of promise, that after centuries of celebration we are still compelled to call this "new." Table fellowship and feet washing are THE heights and depths and breadth of divine presence. God is no longer watching "from a distance." The veil has been lifted and all the barriers are down. Being human has changed for us because God has taken flesh and lived among us. God has appeared, not with power, privilege or strength, but as a helpless, homeless, infant. God, in redeeming and calling Israel, prepared for the time when the covenant was to be open to all. This was the desire of God from the beginning. In order to approach us, God called a particular people and entered into their history. After freeing them from their bondage God invited them into a continuing relationship, expressed in the Sinai covenant. Again and again and again God offered a covenant to them and through the prophets our ancestors were taught to long for salvation. Every generation was a recipient of the promise. Later prophets described this promise in idyllic terms. The word appears, coming gently from God, never intending to remain suspended like a cloud in mid-air, but to soak the earth and to be drawn back toward God like plants and trees. God's spirit is planted within a human heart where it bears fruit. God's word is less a message and more an event. All the world, all of creation, breaks into song as God brings home the people, as God brings back the nations, as God makes room even for us. The curse of darkness is removed forever, and in its place grow the trees of paradise that join in the song and clap their hands in the rhythm of the celebration (Isaiah 55:12). Love is no longer distant and abstract. The covenant between God and human beings is no longer a legal contract. The new covenant has now been written in human flesh and blood, recorded on every heart. Everyone, from the least to the greatest, is the beneficiary of this gift (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The new covenant is now a communion of the whole of life; it is now this person, this friend and companion, this beloved, this family, this community, these children. This vision has borne fruit in the person of Jesus, and in all who bear his name. Flesh and blood now becomes the vehicle for the real presence of God. All those who once were considered to be far off, or simply far out, have been brought near by the Blood of Christ. Every person of flesh and blood, given a heart of flesh (Ez. 11:19), now can become a witness and missionary of the Incarnation. And as Israel became witnesses and missionaries of the Sinai covenant, so God has called each and every person who reads this to become Missionaries of the Blood of Christ. "You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12: 22-24)."

"The Sonnino Notebook" Vol 2, No. 2., November-December 1993 no permission needed to reproduce,

Congregation of Missionaries of the Blood of Christ The Sonnino Mission House 2800 Milvia Street Berkeley, CA 94703-2209 510/841-CPPS

(Contributed by Jeffrey R. Keyes, C.PP.S.)