Covenants, in a religious context, are relationships that hold us and change us. We enter into those relationships. We inherit them. We commit ourselves again to them when we drift, turn away, or break the promises that shape those relationships.
We can quite easily commit ourselves to relationships that destroy us, that tear us apart that invite us to participate in evil and that change us for the worse.
We can easily commit ourselves to covenant with our own limited sense of self-interest, which might lead us to practices of generosity and kindness because it tends to make our neighbors kinder and more generous, but which also can easily lead to not caring two figs for our neighbors because each person is only responsible for our own self.
We can easily commit ourselves to covenant with Steadfast Love, but it is work to live out that covenant. It is work to commit our selves to covenant with Steadfast Love, to submit to changing in ways that attend to others, that consistently find hope, care, and the Holy in and through a community celebrating life’s diversity and blessings and committed to serving the goodness and blessing of this world.
Our covenants and promises change us. When Abram and Sarai make their covenant again with the Holy (Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16) they are changed, in name and in approach to life. They become Abraham and Sarah. Nations and multitudes indeed trace themselves back to them, in their spiritual and familial heritages. And those multitudes commit at many points in our lives – at coming of age, in marriage, with ordinations and commissioning, and in rites and prayers of turning and seeking forgiveness - back to the covenant and promises that shape and change us.
Lent is one of those periods for those of us connected to the multitude tracing connection to Sarah and Abraham as christians, in that multitude’s diversity of names, including some Unitarian Universalists like me and christians of Western and Eastern traditions. During this period of turning back to our sacred promises and covenant with Steadfast Love, we are seeking to find ways to live more fully into those promises and to go ahead and change in love’s transforming power.
How do you recommit yourself to your covenants?
How does your faith community?
What are the stories that guide you in living and committing yourself to faithful covenants?