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petitions contracts and covenants

...... he [Jesus] said to them [Jesus' 12 key followers], "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. ......"              Mark 14: 24


The anti-GST (Goods and Services Tax) petition was the most supported of all petitions in the history of Jersey. Over 19,000 signatories. And it failed.

Petitions are very interesting things - they are really prayers, formal requests beseeching a higher authority to do (or not do) certain things.  The origin of the word "petition" is the Latin verb petere meaning "to seek". (Incidentally, in a world much devoted to competition, that word is a compound of "petition" and the prefix "com", the latter meaning "with others". Competition = seeking, with others doing the same, to sell goods and services.) 

The anti-GST petition had many signatures but only one party to whom the prayer was addressed - the States of Jersey. 

If the petition had been successful, there would have arisen an "agreement" between the 19,000 islanders and the States. An "agreement" is a "contract". Contracts form part of our lives in Jersey every single day of the week. When we bring our groceries to the supermarket cash till we are entering into a contract. That contract in its simplest form says, "I, the purchaser, agree to buy these groceries and pay the supermarket £x for them and I, the supermarket, agree to sell these groceries to the purchaser if the purchaser pays me £x."

Two parties - one contract. But, with a petition, many parties seeking a contract - but no party (in the case of GST) agreeing to do the prayed-for contract action. 

There is, however, another type of "contract" - a "contract" where there is, as with a petition at the outset, only one party. That party states what he or she will do - and does it without any other party being involved at the time. 

A good example of such a contract in Jersey happens where an individual wants, formally and legally, to change his name. He signs a document (called a Deed Poll) - his is the only signature - and the document is registered in the Jersey Court for all to see. 

Another name for a one-person-contract is a "covenant". And this is the word used above by Jesus Christ at the meal that he had with his 12 key followers in AD 33 in Jerusalem the night before he was convicted of being a criminal and then executed as such. (He then rose from the dead, of course, to confirm the effectiveness of his covenant.)

He invited the 12 to take and eat bread and wine at that dinner because these were, he said, the body and blood of "the covenant". This covenant was a one-sided contract, signed by him, as it were, in his body and blood when he died "for many".

But the really interesting thing is that, although all 12 ate the bread and drank the wine, one of them (Judas) would, a few hours later, confirm by his actions that he wanted nothing to do with this "covenant".

It seems therefore that, to have the benefit of this "covenant" – of this contract - one must sign up to it - agree to it and act on it. Only then will it operate in favour of that contracting party.

Much like the anti-GST petition really. Whilst 19,000 people signed it, it lacked one signature of vital importance - the States of Jersey. Now it’s contractually worthless.

But the most important signatures on Jesus' "covenant" (which is for "many" and not for all) are ...... yours and mine.

And, intriguingly but mercifully, we sign that "covenant" by a petition - a prayer.

‘Never make the blunder of trying to forecast the way God is going to answer your prayer.' (Oswald Chambers, writer, 1874-1917)
‘Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring, for His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much.' John Newton, Servant of Slaves, 1725-1807
Richard Syvret

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