Corrie Berg tells the story of the prophet Jeremiah and God’s covenant with the Israelites in Babylon. The Time with Children in the worship service at Nassau Presbyterian Church, Princeton, NJ, focuses on telling Bible stories to the congregation. Listen to storytellers from the church bring these stories to life with dramatic flair.
Our story today comes from the book of Jeremiah, but before we get to the story, I have just one quick question that I want to ask you all. Does anybody know what a covenant is? Does anyone know what the word “covenant” means? [He] is exactly right. A covenant is a promise. It’s a contract. It’s an agreement between two parties.
Now you’ve been learning about covenants in your church school class lately. There was the covenant that God made with Abraham and Sarah when God promises to make them a great nation, and they in turn promise to worship only God. And then there’s the covenant that God makes with Moses and the Israelites when God leads them out of the land of Egypt and into the Promised Land, and the people promise to be faithful to God and to follow God’s laws, the Ten Commandments.
But here’s the thing about these covenants. Each time that God makes a covenant with the people, the people have a hard time keeping up their end of the bargain.
Now that brings us to the story of Jeremiah today. Jeremiah is a prophet. A prophet is a person who takes the words of God and brings them to the people of God. In Jeremiah’s time, the people of God, they were in a really bad place. They had been captured by a great army, and were taken from their home and they were living in exile in Babylon. And life was hard for them in Babylon, but that wasn’t the only thing that was going wrong. They were not keeping up their end of the covenant. They had forgotten how to be Gods people, and they had gotten off on the wrong path. And Jeremiah spends a lot of time, a LOT of time bringing words of God to the people of God. And there’s a lot of tough things that are said and there’s a lot of hard things that happened, but all through it Jeremiah tries to get the people of God back on the right path.
Now, right in the middle of the book of Jeremiah when things aren’t always going very well, God brings a word of hope to the people. God tells Jeremiah to say to the people. “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with my people. In the old covenant I took my people out of Egypt and gave them a new home. But then my people forgot to live as my people, but they will not forget this new covenant because I will write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people, and I will forgive each of them. From the greatest to the least.”
Let’s close in prayer. Dear Lord, we thank you that you are faithful to your promises even when we have a hard time keeping our promises. We thank you that no matter what we do, you love us and you are faithful to us. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.
Storyteller: Corrie Berg
Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Corrie Berg is the Director of Children’s and Family Ministries at Nassau Presbyterian Church. She attended Jamestown University, a Presbyterian liberal arts college, majoring in Religion and English Literature. A highlight of her work is telling Bible stories to attentive children (and adults). It brings together her love of good literature, and her commitment to passing on the stories of our faith to the next generation.