The United Reformed Church Chesham

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May 2006 Newsletter

Dear Friends

A study of language can be fascinating. For example if you consider the pronunciation of cough, bough and though or the multiple meanings of bow or grass, it is surprising that there are not more misunderstandings! Last week one of my mathematics students had to calculate a cost per hour over several days. He assumed the day meant daylight as opposed to night and so using 12 hours reached an incorrect answer; the use of a 24 hour day was expected. So the same word having more than one meaning often causes confusion especially if you are trying to learn another language. There are also differences in meaning across cultures and words sometimes also change their meaning over time.

The word ‘covenant’ is not commonly used today, except in special connections. Covenant, in its most general sense, is a word for a solemn promise or similar undertaking. The covenant is an important concept in Jewish and Christian thinking, derived from the biblical covenant tradition. Also historically, certain treaties and compacts have been given the name of covenant.

We read regularly in the Bible that God makes a covenant with His people. After the flood, the rainbow is seen as a sign that God will never again send such a flood. As Jesus shared the cup after supper with the disciples he announced, “This cup is the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus’ death and resurrection established a new covenant relationship with God. We often interpret God’s covenant as God’s promise, which is rather a limiting definition. The Christian covenant is a solemn vow which involves a two-way relationship between us and God.

I was interested to discover that in Spanish, the word for covenant is alianza, and the word also means wedding ring. So if we were speaking in Spanish the word covenant would have a tangible sign of a permanent commitment. We can picture ourselves united with God by means of spiritual rings. Any one can enter into this covenant, because there are no restrictions due to age, ability or financial means. It does not matter what we have done in the past, because through the cross as we turn to God we are forgiven and free to make a new covenantal start with him.

Communication is possible in many forms. In human communications it is sad when misunderstandings occur, and relationships break down because of this. Promises and vows may be broken. We can be assured that God keeps His covenants. God knows each of us well. He knows what is in our hearts and what we really need. There is no such thing as a foreign language with God and no misunderstandings. God is there for each of us if we will respond to His covenant.

With love

A prayer for May:
Lord you know our thoughts and what we truly need. Show us how to pray and to listen so that we are get our priorities right. May all our communications with each other be careful and genuine, so that misunderstandings are avoided. We give thanks that we are able to speak to you in prayer.