“If only your children will take heed to walk
before me as you have walked before me.”
Excerpt from l Kings 8:22-30
In preparing for worship and sermons I like to read what other ministers are doing. Sometimes I will listen to Podcasts of sermons or lectionary discussions among a group of seminary students, like Concordia Seminary. It always seems to give a fresh insight into the text of the week. Recently I ran across an interesting story by a clergywoman, Talitha Arnold, who served in the UCC church.
She told that whenever new members joined the Connecticut church she served in the 1980’s (First United Church of Christ in Middletown, CT), they used the congregation’s original covenant. Written in 1658, the statement began, “We doe in ye presence of God, the Holy Angells and this Assembly take, acknowledge, and Avouch the one and onely true God.” Reciting it, she said she always felt like we’d stepped back into a Shakespearean play. It must have been quite a rite of passage for new members to stumble through the archaic language.
I thought about the language as it recalled to mind the 23rd Psalm that was read by Dr. Rick Pierce at my dad’s funeral. He read it from the Scottish version with a heavy Scottish accent. It was very beautiful language but hard to understand. You really had to listen. The core of the UCC covenant rang true, even 300-plus years later, and so did the 23rd Psalm thousands of years later. “Ingaging that we will walk with this God,” we promised, “and one with another according to the rules of ye Gospell.”
The commitment to “walk with God and one another” wasn’t original. Variations of the promise are found throughout the covenants of those early churches, beginning with the Church Covenants of the earliest of years.
Today’s scripture text reminds us that the promise is also deeply rooted in our biblical faith. As he dedicates the Temple, King Solomon tells the people to “take heed to walk before God” as their ancestors did. The king knew it was the only way to life.
Whether from 3,000 years ago or a mere 300, the covenant to walk with God and one another affirms that faith is a journey, best taken with others. As we gather on Thursday to give thanks, may that journey be at the top of our list of blessings.
Dear Lord, thank you for walking with us every step of the way. Continue to guide our feet in your paths of peace and hope, as we journey with one another in and through Jesus. Amen.
Grace and Peace