SERMON TITLE: “Our Covenant with God: The Covenant of Dust, Stars, Sand, and Circumcision”
SERMON TEXT: Genesis 15:1, 5-6; and 17:1-11
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: October 11, 2020, at First UMC
On Wednesday, as I was reading the United Methodist News, I learned of a massacre of 19 people in Eastern Congo on September 27. The massacre was enacted by an armed rebel group. Six of those who lost their lives that day were United Methodist lay leaders traveling on a road to attend a district meeting. Three of them came from the same Momove United Methodist Church: Kakule Olenga was the choir director, Augustin Omeno was president of the United Methodist Men, and Muyisa Kambale was the church treasurer. Two of the victims were from the Mutuei United Methodist Church, where Mwayuma Shabani was secretary of the women’s group; Okenge Junior was also a member there and served as the district evangelist. The sixth person, Abibu Chantal, was president of the United Methodist Women at the Samboko church.
The United Methodist News article told that these six congregational and district leaders were memorialized at their Annual Conference meeting this past week. The article didn’t indicate any anger or doubt from those United Methodists gathered at that event. But can you imagine the extreme sadness and pain felt by their families, their congregations, their district, and their conference? Can you imagine the questions they might be asking God right now? “God, these were good people. They loved you, and they were serving you. For heaven’s sake! They were on their way to a church meeting to serve you even more. How could you let this happen to them? Why didn’t you protect them?”
It’s a very human and normal experience to sometimes feel like a promise was shattered when life doesn’t happen as we expect. We go about our lives with many big and small, conscious and unconscious, assumptions about how life should be. We may not even realize how much we counted on those expectations until something goes wrong. Then we feel disappointed at the very least. Sometimes we feel betrayed, violated, and devastated--like some kind of rule or covenant was broken.
During this month of October, we’re talking about this idea of covenant. Covenant is a big topic in the Bible. Last week, we read about God’s rainbow covenant with Noah. Today, we’ve just read about the covenant God made with Abraham. Let’s see what this covenant meant for Abraham and what it might also mean for us.