Covenanting with the Calendar
“I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” – Genesis 9:13 (NRSV)
Many of us have enjoyed the heavenly disappearance of the night meeting from our schedules. Pastor-parents in particular have remembered what it is like to read a book to their child before sleep.
Congregations rely on the covenant of congregating and governing and deciding. Since our current society requires two incomes, church governance got sidelined to the evening.
I will never know how the two-income family happened to the women’s liberation movement but it did.
This devotional is not about capitalism or even feminism. It is about that covenant we make with our calendar and how self-governing “Congregationalists” are going to stay connected to their covenant.
Lay people also work all day. Pastors at least have the option of going “flex time.” What does it mean when we promised to congregate, but don’t miss the nightly event as much as we should? Is the meeting going the way of the offering plate? An empty ritual that nobody liked that much in the first place?
How can we meet in ways that honor the families we promise to have and to welcome, as lay or clergy? Zoom has some advantages, especially if you don’t have to do it every second all-day-long. Night meetings also have some advantages, especially if somebody brings cake and conversation goes between bonding and tasking, in equal measures. What about something more than the perfunctory devotional? What about the bow in the sky and the commandment to covenant to praise?
O God, for all of us who hate meetings while loving encounters, show us a new way to govern ourselves and the institutions we love. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Francis: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.