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!!)
Peace and grace,