Peace – Prayer – Joy – Love
Stained Glass Window

Banded & Pledged in Covenant

  1. The Cost of Living Without Community
    1. Nikolas Cruz of Parkland, Florida & Marjory Stoneman Douglas H.S.
      1. Cruz fought a chronic battle with depression made worse by the recent death of his adoptive mother, which left him w/o parents.
      2. Parentless & expelled, tormented & alone, Cruz lashed out with tragically fatal results, devastating an entire community.
    2. North Korea & the Global Community
      1. In a tragic spiral of action & reaction, an entire nation slips into isolation, suffering, suspicion, and ultimately belligerent hatred.
      2. Sanctioned & suffering, condemned & cut off, North Korea regularly threatens nuclear violence & devastation on the world.
    3. Each of us & Our Local Community
      1. An isolated & besieged pastor & family and longtime members pull away from each other, cutting off communication, & even leaving.
      2. Hardened hearts, accusations, factionalizing, unforgiveness, demands for punishment, causes separation & smaller community.
  2. A Corrupted World Corrupts the Community It’s Built For
    1. It’s a story that goes back to Genesis 4 when Cain killed Abel
      1. Loss of relationship with God causes Cain to kill his own brother.
      2. Separation, hatred, & death; a story repeated throughout history
    2. The very community that we are built for becomes infected
      1. Social media; this thing born of our desire for community has been corrupted the last week or more by deep divisions.
      2. The anxiety, hopelessness, grief, & anger has been oppressive!!
  3. Knowing The Struggle, God Gives Us Covenant Community
    1. In our offertory quote, Martin Luther King Jr. well says:
      “The cross is the eternal expression of the length to which God will go in order to restore broken community. The resurrection is a symbol of God’s triumph over all the forces that seek to block community.”

    2. In our first reading, the author of Hebrews encourages us:
      “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.”

    3. In our Gospel reading, Jesus himself prays for us:
      “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.”

    4. If it was only about individual salvation, then God could have simply “beamed us up”, but instead God connected us to the community of an “away team” for his cosmic mission to rescue & heal an entire world.
  4. So Our Forebears Passed Down To Us Covenant Community
    1. Our congregation’s historic Covenant is a reflection of those very biblical and historical truths that are embodied generation to generation by us; you & I bonded & pledged together for the mission in Greenville.
    2. Our Covenant says it very concisely: [reread the Covenant again]
      We are banded together as a Christian Church to maintain the worship of God, to proclaim the gospel of Christ, to develop in people a consciousness of their relations and duties to God and their fellow souls, and to inspire them with love for truth, passion for righteousness and enthusiasm for service.
      To this end, we pledge our loyalty to Christ and covenant with each other to strive to express His spirit in our individual and corporate life;
      to live together as Christian brethren, and to submit ourselves to the government of this church; working, giving, praying for its increase, its purity, its peace, and seeking in every way to make it a power
      for the building up of the Kingdom of God.
    3. Our Lord Jesus, again in today’s Gospel reading, prays for us:
      so that the world may believe that you have sent me. …
      so that they may be one, as we are one, …
      so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. …
      so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, & I in them.”

  5. Banded & Pledged in Covenant for Present & Future Kingdom
    1. It is no small mission we are called to.
      1. It is a cosmically profound mission.
      2. But we have each other and The Lord is with us.
    2. The world & our community need us.
      1. Will we listen & respond to them?
    3. The Nikolas Cruzes & North Koreas need us.
      1. Will we reach out to them?
      2. Will we have eyes to see, ears to hear, to find them & heal them?
    4. The Lord needs us.
      1. Will we answer the call to love & unity?
      2. Will we be faithful enough to embody this Covenant?


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