A Covenant People

27 Oct

When I was maybe 8 years old, I was asked to give a talk in Primary (the class for children in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I was to speak about covenants. I remember pulling out our battered Webster’s and looking up the word. Then, writing my talk, I didn’t know how to start. So I just launched right in: “Covenant: a two-way promise.” I remember a friend gently teasing me about that abrupt opening.

But at least I got the definition right! A covenant is a promise, and when we talk about that in religious contexts, it is an agreement that we make with God. We make these agreements through the authority of the Priesthood, restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Baptism is a covenant. When we are baptized, we promise to take upon us the name of Christ–calling ourselves Christians and living as He would–and we promise to follow His teachings. And when we are baptized by someone holding the Priesthood (the authority to act in God’s name), God promises to bless us with the Holy Ghost to guide us and sanctify us.

A couple of months ago, in Relief Society, we had a lesson about covenants. The woman teaching made a comparison that I’ll never forget. She pointed out that the first 4 letters of the word “covenant” spell “cove”. This picture of Horseshoe Cove in San Francisco is a good illustration of the principle she taught us. When we keep our covenants, we make the choice to anchor ourselves in a cove. When we don’t keep our covenants, we make the choice to step outside that cove. Outside the cove, our way is much more open and perhaps more free, but we are also exposed to the winds and the waves of the sea. We are much more vulnerable to the disastrous results of heavy storms.

Coves are beautiful, peaceful places. Yes, they are a little more confining than the open sea. But staying in the cove is the best way to keep yourself safe and whole. I’m not saying that we should avoid the water altogether–we need to experience the joy and beauty of this life–but we will be much happier if we do that within the protective arms of the covenants we make.

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