I have been Carroll's chaplain long enough to watch young couples meet, fall in love and marry.
And let me tell you, when I officiate some of these weddings—as I recently did for alumni Bailey Miller '21 and Ryan Liebherr '18—I get the best seat in the house! Bailey was a worship leader and ministry team member throughout her four years at Carroll. As she walked down the aisle, her groom and I were in tears. I felt part joyful pastor, part proud “mama,” and overall, in awe of God’s faithfulness in Ryan and Bailey’s lives. To lay my hands over theirs, seek God’s blessing on their lives and pronounce them married in the name of the Creator, the Christ and the Holy Spirit, was an honor beyond words. I got to be with them as they entered into the covenant of marriage.
Covenants are foundational in the Jewish and Christian faith traditions. Covenants are God's love language – God's way of saying, “You will be my people and I will be your God.” They are the language of commitment and devotion among God's people as well. Covenants are not contracts. They are relational rather than transactional, dynamic rather than dogmatic and aspirational rather than legalistic. They are the fixed point – the standing stone around which covenantal partners gather.
When performing weddings like Bailey and Ryan’s, I am reminded of my covenantal relationships. I think of my own marriage, fourteen years strong. I think of my son and becoming a mom by order of adoption and by the covenantal seal of the baptismal community. I think of my relationship with Carroll. My role here is more than working a set number of hours for a set amount of pay. My role here is much more covenantal ministry than contractual employment. I think of friends and neighbors, the people who share this community with me and for whom I have a responsibility to treat with honor in our shared humanity.
Thinking about these relationships as covenants draws me toward them. It reminds me to live by the love, respect and commitments I have made. It also reminds me that I, too, am worthy of love, respect and dedication. Most of all, it reminds me that I don’t sustain these relationships alone. Covenants, after all, are rooted not in our faithfulness, but in God’s faithfulness. Our human covenants are dependent on God’s covenant with us. God has promised to be with us come what may – in wealth or want, joy or sorrow, sickness or health –for all our days.