February 18, 2018
Church of the Advent, Cincinnati
What is a covenant?
|This beautiful ark is on display at Church of the Advent.|
A covenant is an agreement, but not any agreement. It’s a contract between humans and one another and God. Therefore it’s the most sacred and most holy type of contract.
You can’t have a covenant without God and without at least 2 people involved. Marriage is a covenant, not just between the couple, but the couple, God, and the whole church.
Baptism is a covenant, between the baptizand, sponsors, God and the Church. We witnessed this in baptizing Sochi last week.
It’s not just what the people will do in relation to God, or what God will do in relation to the people - it’s both. A two-way street, supported by the whole gathered people.
In the 1st reading, God institutes the first covenant, with himself, Noah’s family and all living beings.
“This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:” -All of creation is involved for ever. not even just people. What a reminder of our responsibility to care for the earth as it takes care of us.
We’ve just begun the season of Lent, when we re-examine our baptismal covenant, and all the covenants we have with God, to recommit to what we’ve done right and repent for what we’ve done wrong. Perhaps it’s a time to commit to a new covenant too - but remember, covenants aren’t short term agreements. They often last forever, or at least for the rest of our lives.
|An ark made of Legos in Charles' office!|
Our tradition of giving something up for Lent is like that. it’s a small sign, a reminder of our eternal covenants with God and one another. It’s a reminder of our promises to love and serve God, and God’s promise to love us, and to protect and to care for us.
A priest friend of mine said this a few days ago: What if we didn’t just give things up for Lent individually, but what if we gave it up collectively as a church too? What if we as a whole church community gave up gossip or pettiness, or speaking ill of one another for Lent? What if we made a covenant with God to never degrade ourselves and one another with foul language again?
In the face of the horrific gun violence across our nation, What if we as a society made a covenant to never participate in systems of violence again? What if this Lent we gave up tolerating violence & picked up new ways of justice and truth?
What if I told you that you have already made that covenant - and if you don’t believe me, you can read it on page 305 of your prayer book. (Baptismal covenant)
May this Lent be a season of renewed care for the covenants we keep, and to the love between us and God which is behind it all.