September 5, 2021
Covenants and Revelation
NOTE – On September Fifth, we used an adapted form of the Love Feast to focus on Communion. The service invites personal reflection and testimonies. For this day there are three of them – we have created separate pages for each.
PERSONAL WITNESS: Susan Moor
My name is Susan Moor and I live in Stockbridge, just a few houses down from this church. My husband Terry and I moved here about 5 years ago. We cheerfully renovated an old barn and chicken coop in which we live year-round with our dog Homer. I joined the church a year or 2 later and am now on the Growth and Fellowship committee – we are interested in the growth of our church and fostering relationships among our church family – we enjoy the fun things that make people smile, like baking and delivering cakes, then delivering them to meet all of you. We are looking forward to the new coffee/fellowship hour, still in the planning stage.
I need to confess something to all of you who are here – I really don’t like public speaking…I think I might even choose a root canal dental procedure over getting up here in front of you all. But, I do want to share with you my experience with the course I recently took here at the church.
I joined the Disciples class as it has, for many years, been my plan to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. During the class, I found myself getting closer, deriving comfort from God’s presence during this unsettling pandemic. Closer to God and closer to a group of people – many of whom I barely knew. It was a wonderful mix of people….ranging from knowing the Bible well, to knowing just a bit. What we had in common was a desire to learn more.
In the Disciples class I listened to my classmates and was amazed that there were so many different perspectives. Sometimes I wondered…why did I not see that, or, I want to pursue that line of thought. Sometimes I felt validated that someone felt the same way. They were all terrific and I am grateful for each member of the group. Patty, Marilyn, David, Casey, Steve and Mindy. Thank you all for sharing your insights.
There is much to learn from the rigorous Disciples course given here at the church and I’m thankful that Brent was there to guide us through the various texts, complexities, and histories, and guide us as to how each book of the Bible can be read in different ways.
I want to talk about the Old Testament because it is where my revelation occurred. We read quite a bit about “begats”… generation after generation. Much about anger, conflict, killing, punishments, lust and greed, and all the crimes that are still with us and appear regularly and unfortunately in the newspapers of today.
We also read about love, peace, worship, ceremony, celebrations, covenants, families, togetherness and loyalty, compassion – all the emotions which bind us together as children of God.
We started at Genesis, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,” and ended at Revelation, “… The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen”. God’s calling and connection with the Israelites and naming them as his chosen people – and how, after choosing them, covenant after covenant was broken. Not by God, but by the Israelites. The Old Testament is filled with stories about these covenants. God never left them, but they just couldn’t seem to keep their promises and loyalties to Him. The Bible is filled with all the subjects that make for blockbuster movies and books: betrayal, cheating, killing, sex, stealing, greed, jealousy….they’re all there; there really are no transgressions today that aren’t in the Bible.
Covenants: What are they?? Basically, they are relationships. In the Old Testament of the Bible there are many covenants. The very first covenant was with God and Adam, although it was not called a covenant. God expected man to have eternal life as long as Adam and Eve did not eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And we know how that worked out.
There were covenants between kings (David and Jonathan, Solomon and Hiram). These were legal, political covenants. Covenanting was an integral part of living in the ancient Near East.
A personal covenant is a personal relationship where two parties make binding promises to each other and work together to achieve a goal – a marriage for example, where two people commit to love, respect and honor the other, to work together, share their lives and common goals.
When God reached out to humans, revealing himself to bring reconciliation, people understood what was expected. That covenant was a relationship between God and people. This is an important, recurring theme in the Bible.
This is my revelation. I can’t get away from the broken covenants. They were broken, time after time. By the people. Not by God, who never abandoned those people who loved and followed Him. He was always near.
Searching for God, much of my praying is in the middle of the night – maybe more aware of the conscious and unconscious parts of my being, listening to an inner self that emerges… guiding my thoughts there is a sense of discovery, peace, the relevance of knowing that God WAS with me, IS with me, and will not abandon me…. just as He was always present for the ancient Israelites. He has been with me all along. And now my prayers include the words: stay with me, guide me, and gratefulness for His presence.
In the Old Testament, people continually failed as God’s covenant partners…until Jesus was born, was crucified and resurrected. The New Testament (which is another word for covenant) teaches us about the fulfillment of God’s promise through Jesus Christ with this communion plate we will soon be sharing.
God is with us today, here and now…for each one of us. AMEN.