11-12 “Covenants, part 1 and 2”

“Covenants, part 1 and 2”
A meditation based on Psalm 25
November 12, 2017
Community Congregational Church of Chula Vista
Dr. Sharon R. Graff
* * * * *
Part 1
Covenants! That’s what today is really all about. And the Bible is filled to overflowing
with teaching about covenants. From Genesis to Revelation, 380 times, the word covenant
appears. From the very beginning, as God is corralling the wanderers, forming them into tribes,
and eventually leads them into their own land with monarchs and structures and civic duties
and community privileges, that theme of covenant weaves through the whole story.
The first official covenant in scripture is the one God makes with Noah. Remember
that? God promises Noah and his family safety in the ark, then after the floodwaters recede,
God appears again to Noah with another promise for he and his family: “Never again will I
destroy the earth with floods.” And the sign of that promise? A beautiful rainbow in the sky;
and it seems no matter how many times we look up and see those vibrant colors arched across
the sky, they still take our breath away!
God and the people go on through history to make one covenant after another. Some
of the covenants promise land and prestige and family. Some promise loyalty and honor and
worship. Covenants in scripture tend to be two-way, with the promises moving in both
directions between both parties. So covenants were intended to bring the two closer together,
God to humans, humans to God.
Covenants form the relationship we have with God, that God has with us, and that we
have with one another. Covenants practiced through the years strengthen those many
relationships. Covenants are not tests. Nor are they grading sheets that record our failures as
big as our successes. Covenants are the foundation and the walls of our relationship with God.
And they also extend outward to form our relationships with one another as humans on this
planet. We covenant, for example, every time we get in the car to drive. We covenant with
our fellow drivers to color inside the lines, to follow the rules of the road, to watch carefully so
our actions do no harm to another.
One covenant teacher of mine years ago, referred to the image of a cross to describe
the full effect of covenants in our spiritual growth. Covenants move us up and down to
strengthen our relationship with God, and they move us back and forth to bring us more fully
into community. This is basic Covenant 101! And it comes directly out of scripture.
Now, fast forward from the scripture stories to this sanctuary on this day. You are
each holding a symbol of covenant…we call it a Lego. The word “Lego” means “play well…!”
We could add to it, couldn’t we?! Play well with others…Play well by yourself…Play well with
God…Play well everyday…Play well at work…Play well at school…Play well with your family…
Play well with your enemies… (Ah, now we’re just meddling…!). Play well mindfully and
intentionally…Play well with your time, your talent, your treasure… This “play well” theme
sounds like covenant to me!
And so it is that today, we pause to make covenants, one with another, and each of us
with God. In a few minutes, after we sing, you are each invited to come forward with your
Lego piece; if you have them with you, be sure to also bring your commitment cards forward.
If you got out the door this morning without your commitment cards, you may turn them in
later in the church office.
This is a time of great joy! Where you, as people of God in this place, step out in faith,
literally and symbolically! Your literal covenants are your commitment cards—where you
commit time, talent, treasure for the moving forward of God’s mission of love right here in this
place. Some of you brought these commitment cards today. Some of you will bring them in
later. Some of you make these important commitments of time, talent, treasure as the year
unfolds. However that works for you, it is blessed and it is good. In addition, I’m inviting all of
us to make a symbolic commitment today, by using this little “play well” Lego in our hands. As
we sing, hold your Lego, and think about the many ways you already do (or perhaps can), how
you embody the love of God right here. Let that Lego represent your personal covenant, your
symbolic covenant to God and to this community of faith.
Now, let’s sing like the saints God has called us to be!
[After song…]
Now it’s time for a commitment parade! Bring your commitment cards forward, and place
them in the basket. Bring your Lego forward…attach it to another piece or to one of the
bases. And let’s see what God builds through us today!
Part 2
[Looking at the creation on the altar…]
So I preached Part 1…now it’s your turn… ?
Check out this creation! Check out this basket! Both of these are signs of the covenant
between you and God, between you and you. So I ask, as you gaze at these two signs, what
does it look like you are you building here? I’ll bring the mic around, so all can hear.
What does it look like you are building here?
The psalmist has a great handle on what makes a covenant. Here’s how it breaks down:
• 2 parties: person; God
• Person’s part:
o Open up to God (To you, O God, I lift my soul…)
o Trust God (“My God, I trust in you…)
o Eyes open (“Show me your way…”
o Mind open (“Teach me your paths…)
o Future open (“Lead me…”
o Patient with confidence (“I wait all day for you…”)
• God’s part:
o Merciful
o Ancient, unwavering love
o Forgiving and forgetting “the what”
o Remembering “the who” with love
o Good, upright
o Paths full of love and faith
o Protective
o Healing
o Deliver
o Gracious
o Our only hope!
This table of fellowship—filled to overflowing with color and vibrancy and hope and
commitment—becomes today a table that points the way forward for you. You are, indeed, a
family of faith. You are, indeed, a place of safety and learning, of care and curiosity. You are,
indeed, a place where God is still speaking and you are still listening, and all will be well, and all
manner of thing will be well.
Amen and Blessed Be!