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Rev. Gary Ferner Shares a Reflection on Covenant in Celebration of New York Conference Sunday

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Reflection on Covenant

Written in Celebration of New York Conferene Sunday

Sunday, September 21, 2014


A covenant is a sacred promise.  Between two or more parties, with God as a witness or partner.  Ancient covenants in our Judeo-Christian tradition include God’s covenants with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and countless others.

Whenever we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we celebrate the new covenant in Jesus the Christ.

And while it may seem like the word covenant is an ancient, and perhaps outdated concept, we are all involved in many covenants in our modern lives, whether we know it or not!  Our most intimate covenants include marriages, where many of us have made promises to another in the presence of family, friends, and God.

Pastors have covenants with the churches and faith communities they serve.  UCC Churches have covenants with their Associations, and with the New York Conference.  Churches, Associations, and Conferences have covenants with the United Church of Christ as a denomination.  These covenants are sacred promises of intent, support, and mutual love and respect.

Some of these covenants are explicit, many are not.  But they are all important.  They all contribute to the health, the vitality, and the sustainability of our faith lives.  So the concept of covenant, though ancient, is very much a part of our 21st century existence. 

An interesting thing about covenants: like many things, we only get out of them what we put into them.  Covenants generally require care and attention.  From all partners. Covenants left to founder or wither may fail, while covenants that are well cared for can thrive and lead to new growth and even new covenants!

Sacred promises go deeper than mere contracts, and our covenants are our deepest expressions of relationship, with God standing by as a sustaining partner. 

In helping couples discern about their upcoming weddings, I always encourage them to make promises to each other that they can keep, to keep the promises they make, and to remember where God is in their promises.  I suspect this would help us in maintaining our covenants with each other as well.

As members of a UCC faith community in New York State, we are all in covenant with the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ. Fast approaching will be the time when we celebrate that covenant with a Covenant Share Sunday.  I hope and pray we can use that time to reflect on the importance of our covenant with the Conference, and to act on our faith as individuals, as churches, and as Associations, to show the Conference we care about and support our covenant with them.


Gary Ferner

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