Talitha Arnold wrote recently in her Still Speaking Devotion: The Rev. Dr. Reuben Sheares III once described scripture, prayer, and hymns of worship as "the Word that shapes us." Is that true for you? When you worship do the scriptures, prayers, and hymns offer you words that shape who you are and how you will be in the world? Are you shaped by words that are not found in the scriptures or prayers or hymns during worship?
We all find ourselves at times being influenced by words. We have that common used phrase that "words matter." Therefore, if they matter, should we not be on guard for what words tend to drive us as humans and children of God? How can we read in the scriptures of showing hospitality to the stranger when we find names that defame immigrants? How can we pray for justice for the oppressed when we feel it is necessary to debate whether "Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter" is the appropriate way to explain how we see injustice happening in our country and in our world? They address different issues in different ways. How can we say love is our great initiative as the United Church of Christ and we sing "they'll know we are Christians by our love" yet use words that are hateful, derogatory, or deceitful?
Covenant — one of those "churchy" words that may appear in scripture, prayer, or song during worship. While covenant means "relationship" (a specific relationship), it is basically defined as "an agreement between God and God's people." It is when God offers a promise to God's people and they are to respond appropriately. The word was used in the Hebrew Scriptures to describe God's promises to the people of Israel that they would be "God's people." In the New Testament, Jesus talks about a "New Covenant" that was for all people. Our covenant...our specific relationship with God is our affirmation of God's promise of unconditional love made known to us through Jesus Christ. Then, as now, God's people are to respond to that specific relationship accordingly.
As we are preparing for the Lenten Season, wouldn't this be a good time to revisit our covenant with God- then and now? Wouldn't this be a good time to understand that we are shaped by "words" and, therefore, not only are we to read and pray and sing about our specific relationship with God, but respond with proper words outside the sacred space of worship? In fact, we need to be reminded that the covenant extends to all places and times and situations because God said, "I will dwell with my people." All places, all people, all situations are "sacred spaces!" Yes, words do matter as well as our actions.
Let us join together in covenant (specific relationship) to be affirming of God's love in that relationship between those who are a part of Spring Creek UCC, those who will be coming in our doors, and those who need our offering of love in tangible ways outside these walls as well.