Photo of three clay plant pots, the center one is broken.
Covenant: Easily Broken - PWR Healthy Congregations Team
Covenant: Easily Broken - PWR Healthy Congregations Team

By Rev. Laura Shennum​

Part 1 of 3, in a series on Covenant for the PWR Healthy Congregations Team

"Promises and pie crusts are made to be broken." - Jonathan Swift, Irish Writer

This church year, The Cascade Unitarian Universalist Fellowship has been taking our newly formed congregational covenant and studying different lines of it to become more familiar with what it asks of us. This month, we are looking at the phrase: When we fall out of covenant, we recognize, reflect, and re-engage.

Covenant is a fancy word to indicate a promise. We make promises all the time in our lives and can be deeply hurt when they are broken. I wonder if the hurt could be tampered if we viewed covenants or promises in a different light. What if instead of insisting a promise is made as an absolute, it is seen as a commitment to try our best. 

What we know about commitments is they have to be renewed. Otherwise, we would not have such a flurry of activity in gyms or diets every January. The other aspect of a commitment is every time we re-commit we bring with us the learning from what we gained in keeping the commitment and what we know from breaking it. 

By engaging in our congregational covenant, we have made a commitment to try to understand it and live into it. We have also realized it can easily be broken and therefore, put in a phrase which starts a process for us to re-commit. A covenant offers us opportunities to grow and to gain wisdom in how we keep showing up for ourselves, for each other, and for the greater good. May we remember this when our hearts are disappointed or broken and may we each find ways to recognize, reflect, and re-engage.

Rev. Laura Shennum, Minister of the Cascade UU Fellowship, is a member of the PWR Healthy Congregations Team.

For more information contact pwr@uua.org.

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