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Contemporary Comments
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The Covenant
December 12, 2015
Texts: Genesis 9:1-17; 12:1-3; Galatians 3:6-9, 15-18; Exodus 24:1-18; Jeremiah 31:31-34; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26

Dr. Jim Withers changed his appearance two or three nights each week. Instead of looking the part of a physician, he took on the persona of a homeless person. Why the change? Withers was going out in search of the homeless so he could connect with them and provide medical care. It became more than just a commitment to help the homeless in Pittsburgh. Through a program called “Operation Safety Net” and a nonprofit called “Street Medical Institute” he hits the streets with teams seeking to provide for the many and varied medical needs of the homeless community.

The people he serves have no ability to reciprocate Withers’ grace. That’s not the reason he does it. He does it because, “we can actually treat people the way we would want to be treated.” [1]

You may recognize Withers as one of the Ten CNN Heroes honored in a program which aired last Sunday night. Jim Withers has been helping the homeless since 1992, but he doesn’t work alone anymore. Now he enlists others who go out in teams of four to help those who have no way of getting medical care in conventional ways. By changing his appearance to give him the look of the homeless he sought to help was important at first, because he needed to gain their trust. He has made a commitment to help. He has a covenant with the homeless.

Our Sabbath School lesson this week teaches about a series of commitments, or covenants, that God has made with the people, with us. We begin with covenants made with Noah, Abraham, and Moses, patriarchs of the Old Testament. With a rainbow in the sky, God promised Noah and his family that earth would never again be destroyed by flood. God made a covenant with Abram to become a great nation. The children of Israel and their leader Moses were given a covenant when God gave the commands on how to live and they gave their commitment in return.

Next, we are reminded of the covenant, the new covenant, that God made with the prophet Jeremiah which describes a time when one would be able to follow God through the Holy Spirit. Finally, in this lesson we are reminded of the covenant God made through Jesus and shed blood. We are to remember this covenant each time we participate in the Communion service. This series of covenants between God and people tells a story. It is a story of God’s love, forgiveness, promises, and grace. They tell of the history of God’s dealing and they tell of God’s promises for the future.

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1. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/07/us/cnn-heroes-homeless-doctor-jim-withers/index.html