March 1, 2015

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 Mark 8:31-38 “Covenant” Every morning during this season of Lent, I am receiving an email from the United Methodist Church in the U.S. The email reminds me of the word of the day, inviting me to reflect on a word and take a photograph some time before day’s end. The email also includes a short reflection on the word, usually some scripture, and sometimes a picture as well. It’s not a very onerous Lenten discipline, but it is reminding me every day that this is not ordinary time. On Monday the word of the day was “covenant” – perfect timing for preachers like me who were beginning to reflect on the readings for today’s worship in which “covenant” is the major theme. I spent part of Monday in the library, studying journal articles from the 1970s and 1980s on interchurch marriage – what happens when Protestants and Catholics who are both actively engaged in their faith and their churches marry one another and have to work out what that will look like. Although there are some differences in Catholic and Protestant emphases in the theology of marriage, one of the understandings that is definitely shared is the idea of marriage as a covenant. Two people make sacred promises, before God and in the presence of the community, of love and faithfulness to each other for the rest of their lives. On Monday afternoon, I had a meeting with a couple about their wedding this summer. We talked … Read more »

February 25, 2018

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 “Covenant Love” This morning I want to talk about “Covenant Love.” It’s a pervasive theme throughout the Bible, and it shows up in our reading today from the Book of Genesis about God’s covenant with Abraham, Sarah, and their descendants. We should remind ourselves that a covenant is a promise or a vow made between people. It’s not quite the same as a contract that is signed as an agreement for services rendered and payment required, with legal consequences when it is broken. But a covenant is a serious vow or promise made between people to live together in committed relationship with faithfulness and love. And “covenant” is the primary way that God establishes relationships with human beings. During the Season of Lent in Year B, the Revised Common Lectionary provides us with texts from the Hebrew Scriptures each Sunday that highlight God’s covenant relationship with us as God’s people. Last Sunday’s text (which we skipped in order to highlight PWS&D Sunday instead) was about God’s covenant with Noah. Although human beings had become so terrible and evil that God flooded the earth to wipe them out and start again, God promised that he wouldn’t do that again. Recognizing that humans would undoubtedly make more mistakes and do wrong things, God nonetheless determined to stick by us in faithfulness and mercy, covenanting with us, making the promise not to destroy the earth. Today we heard about God’s covenant with Sarah and Abraham, inviting them to walk before … Read more »