What is this thing called “covenant”?

We heard on Sunday about God’s covenant with Noah, and “every living creature.” The covenant theme recurs in a number of readings during Lent.   It sounds like a very “Bible word,” yet it has profound meaning for how we live our lives with God and with one another in community. A covenant is not the same as a contract – a contract is grounded in law and rules, a covenant in grace. A contract can be broken and there are consequences attached. A covenant can be stretched, badly stretched, but it has a flexible and renewable quality. It can be rewoven and strengthened. Probably most of us can think of covenants in our personal lives – usually in intimate relationship with a spouse or partner. But there are other personal covenants, too, and I invite you to think about those in your life. Later, when we schedule a service of installation, we will recognize and honor the covenant we have made as pastor and congregation. As you’ll note from the announcement below, we are, as a Conference, about to covenant with a new Conference Minister!

Covenant is a foundational principle of the United Church of Christ. We are not a hierarchical polity – direction is not handed down from denominational authorities. Neither are we purely congregational though autonomy is given to the local church, allowing it to make decisions on its own behalf. The various “settings” of the church, local, regional, and national, each operate in ministry in accordance with its understanding of God’s leadings, pledged to work with, and respect, the other settings of the church. Sometimes those settings will disagree, but rather than walk away, it is our covenant with one another – in love – to seek truth in the light of God and the path of Jesus Christ.

Before I give you a lesson in UCC polity, which I get to teach every fall, let’s continue to explore how God has spoken to our ancestors in faith. Biblically, covenants were always initiated and renewed by God. That is a great and profound love. Let’s explore it together. (Then later, if you want a UCC polity class – we’ll have that, too!!)

Pastor Carol small


Peace and grace,
Pastor Carol

Pastor’s Notes

We had a spectacular first Sunday together – gorgeous weather and good spirits, familiar faces and new ones.  While I preached about both Jesus and Elisha being “on the brink” of great new things, and the very human fear as well as excitement that can go along with such situations … personally I had a great sense of possibility and promise during worship.  That carried over into the executive board meeting that followed, too. (Honestly, when a meeting can do that to you, you know it’s a good day!)

All of a sudden, I have a to-do list.  (I wonder if Jesus had a to-do list?)  We’ll try a few new things.  You may notice small changes in the arrangement of the worship space.  I’ll be planning for a Bible or book study to begin after Easter, so if you have hopes or suggestions for that, I do look forward to hearing from you.  In addition, I am working with the Finance Board on a theme for the season of stewardship.

I hope to see you this Wednesday evening, February 18, at 7pm in the sanctuary, for a brief and reflective Ash Wednesday service.  Let this season of Lent be a time of renewing and re-covenanting for our shared ministry.  Let us be re-dedicated in our commitment to be an Open and Affirming church, welcoming ALL to the community, the table, and the joyful, and questioning walk with God who is still speaking.

Peace and grace,
Pastor Carol

Lenten Series 2015

IUC0126.15 Lenten series flyerWednesday evenings during Lent
Soup supper at 6 pm, followed by a short program
Meet some old friends and make some new ones!

Wednesday Lenten Series
Along with our sister UCC churches in the area, and Peninsula MCC, we are resuming the practice of a shared simple meal and devotional program for Lent.  We will gather for a soup supper at 6pm at a host church.  From about 6:45-7:30, one or more of the pastors will lead a program.  We’ll finish at 7:30 promptly so everyone can get home.  The theme for the gatherings is “A Light in Dark Places,” and the dates, places, and hosts are listed here.  I hope Islanders will plan to be present.  Think about carpools!

Wed, March 4
At College Heights UCC/Peninsula MCC, 1150 W. Hillsdale, San Mateo
“The Darkness of Injustice”

Wed, March 11
At Cong. Church of Belmont UCC, 751 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont
“The Darkness of Mystery”

Wed, March 18
At Community UCC of San Carlos (co-hosted with Island United, Foster City)
1336 Arroyo Ave, San Carlos
 “The Darkness of Fear and Worry”

Wed, March 25
At First Church Redwood City UCC, 1155 Broadway #130, Redwood City
“The Darkness of Age”

March 18 is our evening to host, and Pastor Carol will be leading the program.  Due to space constraints at IUC, we will co-host with San Carlos at “their house.”  Put the date on your calendar, and watch for details on how to help.