Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Sacramental Covenant

Just a brief thought as you prepare to take the sacrament or reflect on your experience in doing so earlier today. Hovorka, who has provided insight in earlier posts on Ishmael and Isaiah, gives a few different possible etymologies for the Hebrew word we translate as covenant:

In the Old Testament, ‘covenant’ is the translation of the word bĕrît (see Genesis 17:7-8). The term does not have an established etymology. One possible Hebrew root, brh means to ‘select’ or ‘choose’ and denotes the idea that the parties to the covenant carefully choose each other as partners. Another possible meaning comes from an Akkadian word birītu, which is to ‘fetter’ or ‘join together,’ and represents an absolute, binding contract. Thirdly, another meaning for the Hebrew root, brh is to ‘eat bread,’ harking back to Semitic hospitality traditions binding a host to protect his guest." (148)

I especially like this last idea, which reminds us of the sacrament's power to protect us--as we become guests at the Lord's table--from the buffetings of Satan, from the creeping influence of worldliness, and from our own fallen, fallible natures. (If you're looking in the scriptures for an example of this third etymology, where breaking bread binds a host to protect his guest, you might see Genesis 18:3-16, 19:1-10.) I hope that you, as I, had a chance to take the sacrament today and receive the heavenly protection that is promised as we become God's guests and he grants his Spirit to us throughout the week.


Jenny said...

God bless you, my brother.
I love your thoughtful posts.

Becky said...

As I reflect back on today? I remember being annoyed that my 10 and 14yr old had to be told more than once to be reverant. Not such a great reflection. But great post.