Last week we were blessed with the marriage of our eldest daughter. The months which turned into years of preparation saw some frustration at times, but there was no doubt that this young couple were extremely organised and had everything accounted for. Parents and family members from both sides were a little nervous that the two had taken on the role of wedding planners and would not enjoy their day. Several weeks out from the wedding, after months of others asking ‘What can we do to help’, the couple handed over their highly detailed itinerary of the day and surrendered that they could not do this alone, their parents helping hands were needed.
Their wedding day was perfect! Blessed with sunny, warm, autumn weather; surrounded by the support of family and friends, the bride and groom made a commitment to love one another through good and bad times, for as long as they live.
Last week I was also blessed to watch Father Rob Galea. While I have seen him perform before and have heard his life story, I am always amazed by his transformation, from a young mislead boy, caught up in the ‘wrong crowd’ to a person who discovered God, and aided by his parents, who would not give up on him.
I was struck by his story of hiding in his room when he was sixteen, kneeling and crying as he feared he would be found and killed my drug dealers. When his parents knocked at his door, an angry (and scared) Rob would yell and disrespect them. But his parents did not run from this, rather they knelt at his door and cried with him. Rob states, “His parent’s love was like God’s love.”
Throughout the bible we experience God developing unbreakable bonds with certain people.
The bible talks about this relationship, but strangely it does not allude to the idea of a partnership with God. A partnership like working alongside someone to accomplish a goal together as a parent does when raising a child or when two people marry.
What we see at the beginning of the bible is God creating a good world, full of all this potential. Then God appoints unique creatures – humans - as his partners in bringing more and more goodness out of all that potential. But the humans don't want to partner with God, instead they rebel and try to create a world on their own terms. So, what God then does is select a smaller group of people from the many and he makes a new partnership with them called a covenant. In a covenant God makes promises and then in exchange asks his partner to fulfil certain commitments; the purpose being to use the covenant relationship to renew his partnership with everybody else.
God initiates a covenant relationship with Noah, Abraham the nation of Israel, Moses and King David. It is through these relationships that God is forming a covenant family into which all people will eventually be invited.
The first covenant is with Noah. God has just brought the flood to cleanse the world of humanities corruption and Noah and his family are the only ones left. So, God makes a covenant with Noah, which is in effect saying, ‘Listen I know that humans will continue to be evil, but despite this I'm not going to destroy it ever again; instead the Earth will be a reliable place for us to work together.’
The next time we see God make a covenant is with a man named Abraham. God chooses him and promises to bless him, give him a large family and lots of land where they can flourish. In return God asked Abraham to trust him and train up his family to do what is right and just. The whole reason for this covenant is God says he's going to bring his blessing to all families of the world through this one family. The next time we see God make a covenant is when Abraham's family grows into the tribe of Israel. In the Mosaic covenant God asks the whole tribe to obey a set of laws which are guidelines for living well as a community of good partners. If they do this then God promises to bless them and that they will become a people who will represent him to the rest of humanity.
The last covenant of the Old Testament is with King David. The tribe of Israel has become this large nation ruled by David. God asked David and his descendants to partner with him by leading Israel in obeying the laws and doing what is right and just. God promises that one day one of David’s sons will come and extend God's Kingdom of peace and blessing over all the nations.
God like a parent looks after his family and does not give up on us. While a marriage contract is not the same as a covenant, there is a commitment that is needed by both parties. This commitment binds into a partnership, which ultimately assists in all to live life to the full.
This weekend let us honour our mothers as our loving, living giving parent.