Exodus, Chapter 24

Tuesday, June 30

Read

Exodus, Chapter 24

Reflect

This ceremony reminds me of a wedding, at least in one way.  Two parties meet at the altar, God and his beloved Israel, and they make promises. The people say, “All that the Lord has spoken, we will do, and we will be obedient.” The promises are sealed in the way that the most important promises were sealed in that time – in blood. And Moses says, “See the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

We can forget that our covenant with God is more than a relationship; it’s a set of promises. A woman and man find relationship in their beginning, and jointly decide to enter into a covenant by making promises. Heather Havrilesky, in an essay praising marriage, names some reasons why people resist marriage.

In an upgradable, consumer-driven, instant-gratification world where the experiences of shopping for high-end cellphones, high-end mates, and high-end sperm cells are hauntingly similar to one another, isn’t it reasonable to question the value of a legal contract, written in ink, on paper, that involves disastrously punitive terms of dissolution? What kind of an old-fashioned mutant could crave such a primitive trap, particularly when it’s paired with an enormously expensive ceremony that often includes allusions to obedience and lifelong mutual suffering and death, of all things?( New York magazine 2019)

Yet people continue to marry. People continue to be drawn beyond relationship, into covenant faithfulness. It’s remarkable, actually. Could it be that our deepest joy is found only on the long road of faithfulness, that our fullest humanity is expressed as we make promises and keep them? Of course, everyone who stands at an altar and makes promises does so aspirationally, well aware of the inconsistencies and failures ahead. Yet vow we do, because the vows include forbearing with the others’ failures and forgiving the others’ sins, just as the other does for us.

On the night of his betrayal, Jesus sat at table with his disciples, blessed a cup, and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Does that sound familiar? The LORD has made a covenant with us, a pledge of fidelity in Christ’s blood. We have made our own promises in baptism, vowing allegiance to Christ alone and obedience to his way. Of course, our vows are aspirational, and we won’t keep them perfectly; but vow we do, because our Lord forbears our weaknesses, forgives our sins, and loves us into more perfect versions of ourselves.

Pray

God of covenant love, sealed in covenant blood, renew our love and commitment to you. When we are too comfortable in our relationship to you, taking you for granted or forgetting your commands, wake us up. Remind us this day never to take you for granted, and that our deepest joy is found on the long road of faithfulness. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

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