A personal contract. A commitment. An agreement. That’s what a covenant is. It usually is accompanied by signs and oaths and ceremonies. While Abraham was childless, God made a covenant that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Before Abraham, there was a covenant with Adam. Baby Jesus was the beginning of a new kind of covenant. A covenant of joy. One that depended on God to fulfill it, not men.
The usual contract was for covenant maker to offer protection, to exchange coats, to offer sacrifice and for both parties to walk between the pieces of the sacrifice in order to bind themselves together. The punishment for breaking the covenant was spelled out. The benefits were made clear as well. The oaths made were considered binding unto death.
In the stable, there was no big ceremony. No sacrifice of livestock. No party or ritual that spoke of obligations. It was a new covenant, with new indicators. It was less a legal agreement and more of a personal one. Still initiated by the stronger of the two parties. Protection was still offered. But the sacrifice wasn’t livestock. It was heaven’s Lamb. The exchange was God’s life for ours. It was a holy hefty sacrifice. The stakes were higher in this new covenant, but so were the benefits!
Talking with God face to face. Hearing his voice of guidance. No longer having to go through a priest, because Jesus became our high priest. He made it personal. The fruit of this covenant wasn’t swords and armor. All of us who enter into this agreement have the new armor of peace and joy. Sometimes, we forget. Sometimes, we revert back to the old ways. Advent is a reminder to walk in the covenant of joy. The promise isn’t off in the future somewhere, it is here with us, now. God with us. Emmanuel. Joy with us. It is his promise.
I give you joy as your shield. It is your protection from the fiery darts coming at you. Do not drop your shield, my Love. When you do, you will feel the toxins seep into your heart as the darts hit their mark. You will lose the promised peace. You will find yourself getting harder, not gentler. This is how you know your joy has slipped. That you have stepped out of our covenant, your joy will be missing in action. Pick up your shield. Pick up the new covenant. Allow my sacrifice to cover you. It is the reason the Baby came.