During March, my Unitarian Universalist congregation has been exploring the idea of Covenant. When I googled the word covenant, I came up with all kinds of definitions centered around contracts and legal agreements, with added notes of religion and sacred use. It is true that we often hear about covenant in a religious context, the rainbow in the Judeo-Christian story of Noah’s ark being a very famous example. In this context, a covenant is a very strict defining of responsibilities of the parties in a contract. I agree to do A, but you must in turn provide B. While these kinds of contracts are helpful, and even necessary, they fall short of covenant.
The English word covenant derives from the Latin word convenire, a word that literally translates come with. Other familiar words include convene and, a good witchy word, coven. All three of these words connote being in relationship with others and being on a journey together. Sometimes, this does involve setting some guidelines, but more importantly, it involves a determination of how we want to be with each other. It’s not so much I do this, you do that as it is together, we will be this. To go deeper than a list of rules is both challenging and rewarding. Rules are easy, journeying together – not so much.
One of my jobs as Music Director of my church is choosing the hymns and songs we use in worship. As I was going through the hymnals looking for songs that fit the theme, I found that every song talked about covenant to some degree. Some songs, like Come, Sing a Song with Me or Come and Go with Me, address the idea head on, while others, Spirit of Life and Immortal Love, are more oblique. The Unitarian Universalist hymnals, Singing the Living Tradition and Singing the Journey, speak of shared faith. Many Wiccan chants and songs emphasize our connection with the earth, each other, and the divine as working together to accomplish some purpose. The songs we listen to and sing apart from religious rituals imply that we as a culture are journeying together. I invite you to read the various texts of the songs you interact with to see how the songs address the idea of come with. How do the songs of our living tradition shape the journey we’re taking together?
Bendithion llachar! (Welsh for Bright Blessings)