We Promise These Things
As more and more of us come back down from up north, it might serve all of us well to remember the promises we make to one another.
We have no creeds or dogma, no limits on membership as to belief or unbelief, gender or orientation, color or ethnicity, level of education, or citizenship, immigration, or justice system status. All we have is a covenant wherein we promise to behave in certain ways with each other.
Sometimes the pressures in the outside world cause us more anxieties than we can easily deal with. We may feel like acting out, or we may seek to work out our troubles on those closest to us - who are, in many of our cases, our fellow congregants.
And not only pressures from the outside world. From time to time we have questions come before us in this congregation that call for decisions to be made. We are each given the freedom to form our own opinions, which means we’re going to have strong opinions on either side of any issue among our growing number.
Rather than working out our anxieties on one another, our covenant explicitly places before us a higher level of mutual behavior to work toward. It’s not always easy to act within the boundaries of those key words of “kindness, respect, openness, and acceptance.” But if we can ever get the “climate of joy, goodwill, and trust” part right, then the rest will almost certainly fall into place.
And when it doesn’t, there’s a backup plan hidden in the spirit of the text.
Our covenant never uses the word “forgiveness,” but knowing this set of promises is difficult to keep - especially when times are hard like they are now - as a people in covenant with one another, we have to make allowances when one of us steps off the path. Yes, accountability is critically important. But so is compassion and mercy.
As a reminder, here’s our collective promise to one another:
In a climate of joy, goodwill and trust this congregation covenants:
• To protect one another with kindness and respect,
• To listen with openness and acceptance,
• To support and protect the environment of which we are all a part,
• To solve problems responsibly as we grow and change,
• To encourage learning and nurture the growth of diverse human spirits, and
• To dedicate time, talent and resources in an effort to make a difference in local and world communities.
In the spirit of our free religious heritage, we promise these things to one another.
In the spirit of this promise, I’ll see you in church,