It was a little over a year ago that I was introduced to the practice of keeping a Rule of Life by my fellow cohorts in the MREML Program I enrolled in at Rochester College. To be completely honest, I was hesitant to its practicality at first feeling it was a bit juvenile and institutional with the implications of the word "rule". Over time though, it began to take on a different meaning in my life as I began to recognize it as a practice not so much about rules of institutional authority but rather more about the relational organic practices of covenant that begin to shape who I am and the person I am becoming.
In its meaning, a covenant is defined as a binding contract between two parties. It can be both personal and/or economical. I suppose it also can be communal in some contexts too. In any form however, it is always relational and transforming to those who are a part of them. In the context of my covenant with Rochester, I find that transformation in three ways.
As an image bearer of God I find the nature of my covenant being rooted in my relationship with the Trinity. As he is the first mover in defining my nature I must first look to his voice and presence as he speaks to the person I am meant to be. Any transformation that is or going to take place in my life should be rooted in the guidance of His nature and wisdom.
Secondly, the nature of a covenant in identity must also be intertwined into the relational community I am a part of. While this includes the fellow cohort of students I am a part of, it also extends into the locality of my relationships in my neighbourhood and my tribe. Transformation in the academia of Rochester is not just for the stretching context of personally acquired knowledge but rather the exercised practice of learning for the sake of transformed community practices.
Lastly, the embrace of an organic relational covenant brings transformation to the environment we are a part of. While finding new and renewed understandings of who we are through covenant we also see the environment we are a part of in a new and transformed way without ever leaving it. Marcel Proust stated, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." While the nature of our covenant transcends the distance of many states and countries even, each of us finds a shared transformational renewal in our own personal contexts of locality which can become inspirational to one another as we share our stories.
The authors of the book 'Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals' write that, "When we weave together the human and the divine, we are attentive to another story that is not completely our own, a narrative that has the power to transform.” While we begin to embrace the ritual, and tell the story of a Relational Organic Covenant to which we are a part of over the coming months, let us always remember that this covenant is not unto its own self a declaration of who we are personally, but also those who are in covenant with us!
"He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant." (Psalm 105:8-11)
With that in mind, here is my Rochester Relational Covenant...
- Because we believe God became flesh and dwelt among us in Jesus and continues to make his home with us through the Holy Spirit:
We will care for our own bodies as we await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
We will care for one another as we share our lives, particularly by praying for one another.
We will care for creation
I am committed to alternating workouts throughout the week between the weight gym and wheeling the pathways while the weekends are elective.
I will be attentive to healthier food choice while maintaining a diet which treats food as fuel for purpose and not self gratification.
I will seek to model a holistic and healthy lifestyle both for my wife, my tribe (Expressions), and the community around me through the growth of my mental understanding, physical conditioning, and spiritual awareness.
I will read one chapter of scripture every day for the purpose of meditating in it through the rest of the day.
I will seek to apply my learning within the Rochester cohort and MRE to the growth of my tribe and The Edge.
I will seek to engage in my studies through reading, writing, and practice, to the best of my abilities with the intent of growing closer to God's call upon my life.
I will practice daily morning prayer and throughout the day.
- Because we believe that God has reconciled the world to himself through Jesus and reconciles us together to God by the power of the Holy Spirit:
We will create hospitable spaces in our lives to welcome others as Christ has welcomed us.
We will work toward peace and reconciliation within the body of Christ so that our unity might be a testimony to God’s reconciling work.
We will welcome the hospitality of God extended to us by others as they share in peace with us.
I will continue to open my house as a sanctuary to the work of God in all those who enter it through Tribal Gatherings, suppers, leadership gatherings, and social events.
I will seek to meet with all the tribal leaders a part of The Edge at least once a month one on one either by phone, coffee/meal, or online.
I will continue to model and invite others to be a part of the discipling culture our tribe is a part of (I-Living) while continuing to develop a discipling culture within The Edge.
I will attend and be a part of all Edge leadership suppers, gatherings, and retreats while fostering the relationships we have.
I will meet with my ministry partner John every two weeks to learn from his modelling, wisdom, and instruction while dreaming and discerning on the future movement of our tribes.
I will be open to the invitations of my nieghbours to any community gathering point.
I will continue to publish my thoughts and writing in public spaces (blog, Face Book, Email) with the openness of engaging others in conversation around them.
- Because we believe God’s love has been revealed to us in the self-giving death of Jesus, and because that love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit:
We will cultivate practices of steadfast love in our own lives.
We will bear each other’s burdens, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice, in order to participate in a trustworthy community.
We will find ways to make our neighborhoods places of God’s trustworthiness through self-giving love.
I will seek to be involved in at least two community or YYC projects per month for the purpose of creating a better neighbourhood.
I will seek to show love to my wife through dating often, meaningful gifts of beauty (yes, it might be sentimental but, the occasional rose goes a long way!! :) ), and making time to listen to her.
I will also seek to be a better husband through reading, council of friends, and podcasts/video.
I will love my tribe through being present in their lives while shaping my discussions with them solely through the language of encouragement and empowerment.
I will seek out every opportunity to engage my neighbours in conversation while being attentive to the opportunities to bless them within the context that they are in.
I will continue engaging the story of the Calgary Centre for Global Community & being involved in its activities.