“C” is for Covenant
Consent. Contract. Covenant.
In this trio, covenant is the last, best word.
Covenant is a term that appears sparsely in modern America. When I lived in California, the acronym CC&R (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) was a regular part of neighborhood conversations about real estate and keeping values as high as possible. More often, the word covenant appears in reference to wedding ceremonies in general (The Covenant of marriage) and the nature of the vows that are exchanged in particular.
Real estate doesn’t really get at the heart of the word. Weddings do..
Covenant is one of our best, most noble words.
To make a covenant is to promise to be with someone.
To have their back.
To stick with them, come what may.
A covenant moves light years beyond merely allowing something to be done (consent) or pledging to take a particular course of action (contract); a covenant promises to faithfully be with another person or community of people.
In making and keeping covenants, we humans are at our best and most noble because we are following in the footsteps of our covenant-making, promise-keeping God.
The only reason there is a church today is because many years ago God communicated this to Mother Sarah and Father Abraham, “I will be your God. You will be my people.”
Heaven only knows all the trouble, sin, and flakiness that the good Lord has endured as a result of that momentous covenant promise. God has been faithful to it. So faithful that he sent his only begotten Son to make, redeem, keep, and preserve a peculiar people like us.
It is God’s nature to be a covenant-making and covenant-keeping kind of God.
We are invited to wisely follow the divine lead.
You do so when you promise to be a faithful friend.
You do so when you promise to stick with your child—or parent—no matter what.
You do so when you stand and say words like these to a soon-to-be husband or wife:
I take you… to have and to hold from this day forward
For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer.
In sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow.
To love and to cherish as long as we both shall live.
It is one thing to say the words. It is quite another to faithfully live out a covenantal through the pain, strain, and indignity of the years. By God’s grace, we can do just that. We worship the one who promises,
“I will never leave you or forsake you”* – and –
“Surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age.” **
Every Sunday in worship is a renewed invitation to receive the blessing of these mighty promises from the mouth of the God who sticks with us day by day, week by week, and age to age until the ages are no more.