One of my favorite services of the year is the first Sunday in January, traditionally in Methodist churches a time to renew our covenant relationship with God. John Wesley himself wrote out an annual covenant renewal service, still in use today, and we will place ourselves in that history and tradition January 1. Here are some words of introduction to the Covenant Renewal service from the British Methodist Church Book of Worship:
From the earliest days of the Methodist societies, John Wesley invited the Methodist people to renew their covenant relationship with God. Wesley drew much of his material for the service from the seventeenth-century Puritans and subsequently made changes to it. The Wesleyan Conference revisited it twice during the nineteenth century and other branches of Methodism had versions of it.
The emphasis of the whole service is on God’s readiness to enfold us in generous love, not dependent on our deserving. Our response, also in love, springs with penitent joy from thankful recognition of God’s grace. The covenant is not just a one-to-one transaction between individuals and God, but the act of the whole faith community. The prayers of intercession which follow emphasize our unity with all humanity. The service proceeds to emphasize the continuity between word, response and sacrament. The service is meant to lead us, by a path both similar to and differing from that of normal Sunday worship, to that commitment which all worship seeks both to inspire and strengthen.
Join me this Sunday for this amazing service. We'll read aloud our covenant renewal with God, sign it, and take home to read throughout the year. Remember: One service only at 11:00. See you then!
Happy New Year!
All Grace is Amazing!