Welcome to the Covenant Service
At the start of the New Year we are invited to make a distinctive resolution through the Covenant Service
As you read the history of the Covenant Service briefly outlined below and reflect on the Covenant Prayer do so with these things in mind;
What jumps out at you from that prayer?
- Which of the phrases do you find easy to say?
- What do you find difficult to say?
Think how the prayer might apply to the whole of your life
- What things might God be asking you to stop?
- What might he be asking you to continue with?
- Are there new things which God would like you to embark on?
This service is at the heart of Methodists’ devotion and discipleship, and their dedication in working for social justice though you will see through the history of the service that much is owed to our Anglican partners. In the service the Church joyfully celebrates God’s gracious offer to Israel that “I will be their God and they shall be my people”. This offer is then extended beyond Israel to all women and men in Jesus Christ.
What God offers is a loving relationship. The Covenant is not a contract in which God and human beings agree to provide particular goods and services for each other! Rather, the Covenant is the means of grace by which we accept the relationship and then seek to sustain it. It is therefore not so much about getting in to a relationship with God as it is about staying in it.
This idea of Covenant was basic to John Wesley’s understanding of Christian discipleship. Wesley recognised that people needed not just to accept but also to grow in relationship with God.
Over a number of years he gradually saw the need for some regular ceremony which would enable people to open themselves to God more fully. He looked for some means of helping them to hear God’s offer and challenge ever more deeply, and to allow God to prompt and enable them to respond.
In 1755 he created a form of service adapted from the works of Joseph and Richard Alleine. These works came from the Puritan tradition of pastoral and spiritual guidance. Wesley therefore insisted that the Covenant Service be located in a framework of pastoral care, preaching and guidance.
One of the most significant parts of the service which is held within a service of Holy Communion is the Covenant Prayer and we are all invited to begin this new year with a renewed commitment through this prayer.
Covenant Prayer: I am no longer my own but yours. Your will, not mine, be done in all things, wherever you may place me, in all that I do and in all that I may endure; when there is work for me and when there is none; when I am troubled and when I am at peace. Your will be done when I am valued and when I am disregarded; when I find fulfilment and when it is lacking; when I have all things, and when I have nothing. I willingly offer all I have and am to serve you, as and where you choose.
Glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. May it be so for ever. Let this covenant now made on earth be fulfilled in heaven. Amen.
I will never break my covenant with you