This morning I sat in a quiet house overlooking a wooded creek, reading, praying, drinking coffee, and thinking about covenant.
Covenant is never only about personal relationship with God, or another person, but about creating a community (absolute minimum of two persons) that is robust enough to live beyond judgement. It moves from the particular (personal) starting point to bless and embrace others.
Future judgement and future blessing both break-into the present. So we can speak of the crises facing the Church and the wider society to whom we are sent as just judgement on God's people and the world for failing to love God and our neighbour. In this context, covenant creates community robust enough to live after the cultural earthquake.
This is how covenant is depicted biblically, whether after the Great Flood; or when Joshua renews the covenant between the people and God after he has brought them out of Egypt (judgement), dealt with them in the wilderness (judgement), and displaced other nations to give them the Land (judgement); or when Jesus initiates a remnant community that will survive the fall of Jerusalem (judgement on God's people) and the fall of Rome (judgement on the world) - a remnant that will embrace both Jews and Gentiles.
Therefore our covenant relationships - whether marriage covenant, or other forms - provide us with the means to live in a world that has been violently shaken, as would be an accurate description of our society in double recession and great upheaval, albeit the positive celebrations of this summer (celebrations which express covenant between a monarch and get subjects, and the youth of the world, as it happens).
It does so by (as the marriage service vows articulate it) the sharing of all that we are and all that we have, within the love of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The offering of who we are today, each day, as we change/grow; given to another so that they might grow more fully into the person they were created to be; in order that others are blessed beyond and outside of the covenant relationship in question. The sharing of resources. All held within the height and depth and width and length of God's love that goes beyond all we could ask or imagine. So, my marriage should not only bless my wife, but also our children, and as many others as we come into contact with.
And likewise my church community.
Is that how we understand ourselves, our calling in the world? Or are we overwhelmed by the earthquake?