Covenant With the Lord

 In Preaching & Teaching

Earlier this year Pastor Larry recommended that I read The Light and The Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, a book about the European discovery of North America and the founding of the United States. This book opened my eyes because it’s the first book I’ve read that presents our country’s history from a Christian perspective. Marshall and Manuel included in the history of North America stories of how God was acting through events and people, and what God was doing to further His plan for the United States.

We all know about the Pilgrims arriving from Europe on the Mayflower in 1620 and settling in Plymouth, MA, about halfway between Boston and Cape Cod. The Pilgrims believed that the Church of England was corrupted beyond salvation and that they were called to separate from the Church of England, sail to North America, plant Christ’s church in the new land, and convert the natives to Christianity. This was all a new enterprise for the Pilgrims so before they left Europe, they “joined themselves by a covenant of the Lord into a church estate, in the fellowship of the Gospel, to walk in all His ways made known … unto them, according to their best endeavors” (Marshall and Manuel, The Light, pg 141). Then, before they stepped on shore, they created the Mayflower Compact which says, “by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic” (Marshall and Manuel, The Light, pg 154).

As I read this my thoughts went to the Gospel of Mark:

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

Jesus commands us to love the Lord and to love our neighbors. I saw that that is what the Pilgrims had covenanted to do: to love the Lord as His church in the New World and to love each other as members of that church.

After I finished the book, I made my own covenant with the Lord. I covenanted to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. My covenant was with the Lord only, not with any other people; just a few know that I did this (until now). I’m not always successful in keeping this covenant but I continue striving toward this goal.

So where am I going with this? Just this. Hope Church recently voted to separate from our mother church, the United Methodist Church, as the Pilgrims had separated from the Church of England. Like the Pilgrims we are sailing off into the unknown, and also like the Pilgrims we already know what our charge is: to make disciples for Jesus Christ. It won’t be easy and there are going to be setbacks, but it will be easier and the road smoother if we love both God and each other. Now I ask you to join me and covenant with the Lord and with each other that we will love and serve the Lord and that we will love and serve each other. Only together and with God will we make the next step in Hope Church’s journey one that will be pleasing to Him.

Photo: The Mayflower Compact
By Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1863-1930

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  • Patrick Witt

    Outstanding post, Earl. Thank you so much for sharing your insight and your heart.

  • Tori Smith

    Great blog Earl! I will covenant with you to love the Lord our God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. And to love my neighbor as myself. To serve both God and neighbor. And to quickly ask for forgiveness when I fail.

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