"If only your children will take heed to walk before me as you have walked before me." - l Kings 8:22-30
Whenever new members joined the Connecticut church I served in the 1980's (First Church United Church of Christ in Middletown, CT), we 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, I always felt like we'd stepped back into a Shakespearean play. It was quite a rite of passage for new members (and the ongoing ones, too) to stumble through the archaic language.
Yet the core of the covenant rang true, even 300-plus years later. "Ingageing 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 Congregational churches, beginning with the 1629 Salem Church Covenant.
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 tomorrow to give thanks, may that journey be at the top of our list of blessings.
Thank you, God, for walking with us every step of the way. Guide our feet in your paths of peace and hope. Amen.