First Thoughts From The Rev. Canon David Smith: 

Most weeks Fr. David sends out an e-mail with his first thoughts on the upcoming Sunday readings. These reflections are designed to encourage people to consider the readings before they come to worship which we hope will enrich Sunday worship. People are invited to respond to David with their own thoughts and sometimes interesting ideas and conversations occur that end up in the sermon. If you would like to receive these weekly e-mails e-mail David at  . 

Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, March 22 - Lent 5

Posted by Emily Sanderson on Monday, March 23, 2015
Hi everyone,

I am sure many of you are thinking that I gave up First Thoughts for lent. I
guess I have used the time I spend on First Thoughts to Bible study
preparation for the Tuesday Bible Study.

I feel sad about this because I really do think it is valuable to think
about the readings before worship and so hopefully I can get back on track.

Here are some very quick first thoughts for this Sunday.

Readings: Jeremiah 31: 31-34, Psalm 51:1-13, Hebrews 5: 5-10 , John 12 :

Jeremiah is best known as the weeping prophet because he is traditionally
considered the author of lamentations and because he spoke harsh words of
warning to the people before the exile. His words not only caused much
consternation but also sadness for him. But in our reading for Sunday he is
speaking a word of great hope for a new start for those who are now in

In a way Jeremiah reflects the job description of a prophet who afflicts the
comfortable and comforts the afflicted.

The word of hope is that in a new day there will be a new covenant between
God and the people and it will be written on their hearts. Of course for us
as Christians we see this new covenant being made with Jesus. On Maundy
Thursday we will reflect on how Jesus refers to the cup of wine at the Lords
supper as the blood of the new covenant. For me I am inspired and intrigued
by the notion of the covenant being written upon our hearts. This intimate
language is used often in the Bible and in our liturgy , think of the
beautiful Anglican prayer called the  collect of purity which references our
hearts. Our Psalm for Sunday has David praying create in me a clean heart.
So I think I am going to try to speak about this on  Sunday.

But if I change my mind , I might speak about the great question the Greeks
asked St. Philip and St. Andrew, we want to see Jesus. Janelle at M.P. this
morning reminded me about this saying being inscribed in some pulpits. One
of the best parts of my former job was to be able to preach in churches
throughout our diocese. I preached in most of our churches. In two that I
recall, St. Paul's in Brockville and St. James in Kingston have in their
pulpit, Sir we would see Jesus. Of course it was inscribed when the
preachers were almost always men and so now it should read preacher we would
see Jesus but the meaning is very powerful. The question made me think is my
sermon going to help people see Jesus? Of course this is a great question
not only for preachers but everyone in the church. Would our meetings help
people see Jesus, would our outreach help people see Jesus, would our
fellowship help people see Jesus and so on and so on. Great question and in
the Gospel reading the patron saint for the folks in Milford tried to show
them Jesus and we are called to do the same.

The answer they got though was to look at the cross of Christ and to see
there the love of God for all people. Of course a good sermon could ask
questions about what this means.

Our epistle reading from Hebrews is one way of describing the meaning of the
cross and of how in Christ's death a new covenant is written on our hearts.

Hebrews uses the language and thinking of the priesthood and the sacrifices
they offered.

Very succinctly and going back to verse 1 of chapter 5 we see that Jesus
serves as mediator between God and humanity but he exceeds the function of
the priests because he is also the source of salvation and not only
mediator. And Jesus only had to make one sacrifice, a perfect one for all

Jesus also   through his suffering ,acts as a pastor as did the priests but
in a full and complete way .

Jesus also was appointed priest as other priests but he alone was appointed
to sonship. (details on this see Interpretation :Hebrews by Thomas Long, pgs

Hebrews describes and explains why Jesus is a great high priest.  A sermon
could explain in more detail the idea of Jesus as great High Priest. If you
listen carefully to the prayer of consecration this Sunday from the BCP you
will definitely hear echoes of Hebrews and the declaration of a new

Hope this helps you for Sunday.