I love January! I think it's because every January 1st, you get a new slate. Everything is new again and anything is possible. It's a new year and there is hope that this year will be better than last year.
For the past three years in our congregation, we have used the first Sunday of the New Year to have a Wesley Covenant Renewal Service. It is something that John Wesley began doing in the 1700s and it has been rediscovered recently and put into practice in local churches throughout the world. It is an opportunity for Christians to recommit themselves to Christ and is centered on the Covenant Prayer in the Wesley Tradition.
"I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee. Exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father Son, and Holy Spirit, Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth let it be ratified in heaven. Amen."
Like many things in the Christian life, no one can make this covenant for you. It is something that each person must commit to doing on their own in order that they may be renewed in their resolve to follow Christ as He leads us.
So, you may be thinking that this does not sound like anything new. You may be thinking that this is what Christians are supposed to be doing all the time anyway. But, as Scripture has informed us, we need opportunities to be reminded of the covenant that we entered into when we first committed our lives to Christ. In Deuteronomy, the people of Israel renewed their covenant with God. Again in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, there was a need to renew the covenant. Then, after being exiled, Jeremiah proclaimed that there was a new covenant that God wanted to enter into with His people.
When Jesus came, He used parables and stories to get across to people the need for people who follow Him to be committed to Him by the ways in which they lived out their faith. When we follow through on Jesus' call to holy living and holy loving each other God, then we experience the joy of fulfilling our part of the covenant. God is always faithful in His part and He calls us to take our part more seriously.
I would encourage you to read again the Covenant Prayer in the Wesley Tradition. Use it as a tool to enable you to grow in your own relationship with Christ as He leads you throughout this New Year - 2011. It will be amazing to see what God does in each of our lives as we recommit ourselves to Him, taking seriously the covenant into which we entered when we first gave our lives to Him. This year - 2011 - is filled with the amazing possibilities that are there when we make ourselves available to God's leading. May you have a wonderful blessed New Year!
Rev. Laura P. Skiba serves the North Star United Methodist Church, 51095 Kenai Spur Highway in Nikiski.
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