Our two churches have an agreement, called a Covenant. I know many of us still don’t understand it. What difference does it make having a Covenant? Does it change anything? I mean - The Rock’s just renting, right?
God wants everyone to be respected, and to share fully and generously in all the good things in life. But the Bible tells from the beginning, things didn’t go so well. Pastor Everett’s been teaching from our ancestor Nehemiah. And how important God’s word was through him. But, without the Great Covenant we wouldn’t have the witness of a Nehemiah, or any of the prophets.
From the time of Noah, God made special agreements with men and women called covenants. These agreements stand on the sacred word of God. God’s word means something, and so should ours. While God’s good at keeping promises, we aren’t so good at keeping ours. God can get pretty mad at our selfish and evil behavior, but God never breaks the agreement. It’s a good lesson.
By the time of Moses, God had added lots of complicated rules to the agreement. God figured maybe extra rules would keep us in-line. Maybe humans we’d actually follow our part of the agreement. But we don’t like rules. So, God cut the rules down to ten. Ten Commandments; ten guidelines to a just and holy life. These Commandments were easier to remember. But humans don’t always do what’s just, and right, and generous. We all know our history; a lot more taking than giving.
So, God sent us Jesus; the Word of God made flesh. He moved into our neighborhoods; taught and lived God’s way with us. And to help us to stay right with God, Jesus cut those ten commands down to just two: Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.
Even then, with Jesus in our lives, we still needed constant reminders that the Word of God; The Great Covenant is more powerful than all the evil in this world. Jesus’ “Way” was simple, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Many things, yes- race among them, divides us from living that love. Because God’s way is our way, Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church and Lake Edge UCC formed our own Covenant; another reminder to us of God’s abiding love for us in the Great Covenant. With God’s help, together, we commit to find common ground and to express the goodness of God’s love. Because we’re two different churches, we’ve gotta work extra hard to live up to our Covenant promises. And what are these promises? “…to practice patience, understanding, trust, and forgiveness… supporting and loving one another as God loves us.” Important words.
This is our sacred agreement in the sight of God. And it doesn’t happen every day in Madison. That’s why it’s so important. And it’s why The Rock is so much more than a renter. In time, if we can both learn to live this covenant, our Covenant, it will change everything! Thanks be to God!