Rev Josephine Soon

The Introduction of Covenant Renewal

and Holy Communion Service

To all disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ,
An Invitation from God through Methodist Church………

Methodists hold an annual Covenant Service. It was rooted in Puritan Spirituality and the first celebration of the Covenant Service in the Methodist Movement was led by John Wesley on August 1755. This service is most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or Day; hence sometimes called as Watch Night Service. Once in each year all Methodist people are invited to renew our covenant relationship with God-in Jesus Christ our Lord. This Covenant Service also is appropriate held on a Sundays during Lent or preaching revival and mission, Church Anniversary.

The heart of the service is celebrating the love of God-in-Jesus for us which is not dependent on our deserving. By recognised the grace of God, we response to God in affirmation that we give our lives and choices to God.

Covenant Prayer:

I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

This covenant is serious and required adequate prayerful preparation for our response to the covenant. Although the service is focused in the Covenant Prayer, which requires individuals to commit themselves to God, however this covenant is not just a covenant between individuals and God. This service is an act of the whole faith communityemphasize our unity with all humanity.

The service is a flow of acts from praising the Trinity, listening to the word in scripture (remind us of a covenant God we worship) through reading and preaching, and penitential approaching to the word of the Covenant.

‘Put me to doing, put me to suffering’

In Wesley's time, and in earlier centuries, alongside our current meaning of "suffering" was another meaning.  The word ‘to suffer’ meant ‘to allow’ or ‘to let’. (1)  These words do not mean that we ask God to make us suffer, but rather that we desire for God to enable us to make things happen and to enable us to let God’s will be done in and through us. So, Methodists believe that the desire for God to make things happen in us and through us is a profound ministry.

After the Covenant prayer is said, the service continues with the Lord’s Supper. We believe spiritual discipline is effective in reminds us that - it is by the grace of God that we are able to live out our faith. Hence, helps and enable us to be faithful to the covenant relationship with God.

This prayer is so central to Christian life that other denominations have also adopted the Covenant Service. Therefore, although many of us might find it tough to say this covenant prayer and to really mean it in this New Year, may I invite you to see this as an opportunity for us, Methodists, to open to God more fully by affirm our love and commitment to God and our neighbours with all our strength, mind, soul and heart?

Happy New Year!


(1) For example, the translators of the old King James Bible (about 150 years before Wesley's time) translated the Greek of the gospels where Jesus was quoted in English saying, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me.’ What he was saying was ‘Allow the children to come’ or ‘Let the kids meet me’.

 

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