Here and Now: Covenant

The Covenant is the all-encompassing word to describe how our relationship with God is processed in the daily round of ordinary living.  The Law is meticulously detailed, to say nothing of the midrash which expounded upon it in even greater detail.

If we think of these rules and regulations as objective norms for catching offenders and justifiably punishing them, we misunderstand why God established the Covenant in the first place.  But if we are willing to view Covenant differently, it becomes God’s chosen means for influencing here-and-now living.

The Covenant is the sign that the will of God is of earthly good.  God’s will is not reserved for eternity in heaven.  It is revealed as the means for manifesting justice (welfare for all) and holiness (personal and social godliness) in the present moment.

Moreover, the Covenant shows us the will of God matters in every area of life. [1]. The detailed nature of the Covenant is not so there can be a law (to be obeyed or broken) for every conceivable circumstance, but rather to ascribe sacredness to the totality of life.  As Marsha Weiderker has put it, “Every tree is full of angels.”

Covenant is what creates our world view.  It directs how we are to live in every moment.  It is, as Jesus made clear, summed up in the two great commandments.  It is loving God and others here and now ( Matthew 22:37-40). Dr. Carolyn Sharp emphasizes this as well, noting that, “Law becomes the living out of our faith…following the great commandments to love God wholly and to love neighbor as self.” [2]

When we see this, we discover the reason we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  We pray to live fully here and now.

[1] Walter Brueggemann, “The Costly Loss of Lament,” Oneing Journal, Vol. 6 , No. 1(CAC Publishing, 2018), 36.

[2] Carolyn Sharp, “Demand and Deliverance: Brueggemann on the Torah” in Walter Brueggemann’s, ‘Disruptive Grace: Reflections on God, Scripture and Church’ (Fortress Press, 2011), 13-14.  Dr. Sharp is the editor/compiler of the material in this book.  She is a professor at Yale Divinity School.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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