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Abstract:
Overview of the meanings of the Covenant, from a personal perspective.
Notes:

We are overdue to honour our end of our covenant with God

by Ted Slavin

published in St. Catharines Standard
St. Catharines, Ontario: 2010
I vaguely remember my first association with the word "covenant." It was in a movie theatre with my parents, feet dangling above the spilled popcorn and sticky floor that nearly pulled off my Battlestar Galactica running shoes with each step. I must have been about seven years old, watching Indiana Jones take on the bad guys for the Ark of the Covenant.

The movie has remained one of my favourites, though the melting-face scene still freaks me out. It was because of that film that I first associated "covenant" with a big, heavy golden box that you didn't want to open, lest you meet the gruesome fate of Jones's enemies.

Later in life, I learned that a covenant had deeper, more cordial meanings. Its basic definition relates to an agreement or binding contract through which two parties commit to each other. Another meaning has been long associated with world religions.

The Bahá'í writings explain an Eternal Covenant between God and humanity that is based on love. Love was the purpose for our creation: O Son of Man! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.

God created us through His love and we are to love Him in return. But God is also said to be unknowable in His Essence. Generally, that which is created cannot understand its creator. For instance, the painting cannot understand the nature of the artist who made it. The artist is incomprehensible to the art she or he makes.

Though we cannot comprehend God, we can know His love through His Eternal Covenant. Because of God's love, humanity has never been, and never will be, left alone and without guidance. This is His promise to us. This is His Covenant.

The human race, on the other hand, has not been as consistent in holding up its side of the deal, which entails loving God and following His guidance. Our ebb and flow to and from God through known history shows a pattern. Whenever a Messenger from God appeared (such as Christ, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha, and so on) humanity progressed, thanks in large part to the divine teachings They shared on God's behalf.

Time passed, the teachings were forgotten and distorted, and humanity receded until another Messenger of God appeared. And so the cycle will continue. I often compare this cycle on how I progressed through school. Grade 1 was probably the highlight of my academic career. My teacher was awesome. Thanks to her, I had mastered counting by ones, twos and fives (10s were easy) up to 100. My printing was neat and rarely outside the blue lines.

Then came two months of summer vacation. I kept up my drawing, but printing got put on the backburner. Counting? Heck, all I had to count was the number of bumps on Lego bricks to make a space station. By the time I walked into my Grade 2 class that September I was probably lucky if I could remember what 100 looked like.

Fortunately for my classmates and me, our Grade 2 teacher taught us what we had forgotten and much more. And thanks to a summer blockbuster, I had learned the word "covenant" for the first time.

God has held up His side of the Covenant — Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh has revealed the spiritual teachings needed to come together as one human family and build a new world order out of the chaos.

Now it's our turn to put those teachings into practice.

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