My wife Linda and I recently bought a house. It is the first time our primary residence has been a home that we actually owned in over twenty-five years. Since coming to Sanibel we have lived in rentals, and before that we lived in parsonages for over eighteen years.
You forget, as you are caught up in the excitement of buying a house, just how much responsibility comes with being a homeowner. Especially when you live, as we do, in a community bound together by a Home Owners Association (HOA). It's not a gated community, but it is circumscribed, and each of the one-hundred and sixty-four households are protected by certain agreements we have made together. The document that binds us all together is called a covenant. And the rules run from what color you can paint your house, to how often you can rent it out in any given year. The result of such an agreement is a very lovely, well-maintained community. But it isn't without its struggles. There are sometimes, I am told, contentious times as the community-elected board of directors attempts to enforce the covenant.'
As I've thought about our HOA, I realize it is a bit of the nation in miniature. To be a citizen of this (or any) nation, means to buy into the rules that govern it. That doesn't mean the rules can't be changed. They can, by majority vote. And they are subject to interpretation by the various governing bodies and courts. But in the end, having a functioning, effective nation depends on full participation by its citizens. And the nation's covenant, is the Constitution.
And so too, I realize as I'm writing this, the church. For the church to be a lovely, well-maintained, functioning, effective community, all its members must participate. And, so
we too have a covenant.
None of this is especially profound. Its a rather simple set of analogies, but every once in a while we need to be reminded: communities and nations and churches are the result of individuals working in concert for the common good.