lent 2013 001bChrist is the intermediary of a new covenant.

(Hebrews chapter 9, verse 15)

Once the train has gone through Watford Junction I know that it won’t be very long before we reach London Euston station and if I need the toilet I had better go now. That station in Watford is still some way from the centre of London but it does tell me that our rail journey into the city is drawing to its close.

In the same way that Watford is a landmark towards the end of our train journey, so the fifth Sunday of Lent tells us that Jerusalem in on the horizon of our Liturgical journey. It may still be two weeks to Easter but next week is Palm Sunday and our readings and prayers from here on are less about journeying with Christ, and more about the events of his last days before his suffering on the cross. We haven’t arrived at the cross but we see the tip of its shadow at our feet so to speak.

I think it easy to forget sometimes what a big deal the New Covenant is. We have learnt that God’s grace requires no payment on our part and perhaps we are tempted to take it and Him for granted: “God has got to love and forgive us, that’s his business.” Or something on those lines. But the new covenant has a very practical application. There is the moral and spiritual effect of forgiveness and reconciliation with God and they are crucial (pun intended) to our existence. Another result is that no human or animal sacrifices are required or requested by God: it is sufficient that his Son died once and for all on the cross.

The end of animal sacrifices changes the economy of religious observance as well as reminding us that all life belongs to God and He does not need any creature to be killing in order to be satisfied. On Good Friday we may spend some time reflecting on the meaning that the cross has for each of us. But it is also a big deal for the animals who used to pay with their lives in our attempt to deal with our separation from God. It is not necessary for us to kill anyone or anything in order to please God

A prayer from “Common Worship”

Gracious Father, you gave up your Son out of love for the world. Lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion, that we may know eternal peace through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Additional Collect, Lent 5)