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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Jeremiah 31:31–34

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. (NRSV)

Among the thousands of signals people send to each other every day, many are nonverbal or silent. A nod, a bow, a slump, an arched eyebrow. They vary slightly from culture to culture, but all humans use them. They bring mystery and a little playfulness to communication, I think. A little swing, a little jazz. I think they even relieve pressure, reminding us of the emotions and attitudes that bind us to each other when words would be clumsy or inappropriate.

You won’t find nonverbal communication in treaty agreements, medical records, divorce decrees, or zoning ordinances. Those require explicit detail. How many times have we seen a courtroom movie in which a judge will state something like “Let the record show that the defendant refused to answer the question.” Even without an answer, that defendant communicated.

It’s good that our law relies on explicitness. None of us should want to go forward without it. A solid legal system is one of humanity’s most civilizing achievements.

Still I yearn for the day when misunderstandings cease, when communication is as effortless as a look or a smile, when people will no longer have to debate about what is right and wrong. What a day that will be, when we listen to the word of God written on our hearts and make the connection that is unbreakable.

Lord, silence my soul so that I might hear your law written in it, and then guide me so I will find it within everyone I meet. Amen.

Written by Jim Garner, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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