On Sunday the 31st January, 2016 we celebrate our Covenant Services (A combined Morning Service at 09:00 and the usual Evening Service at 18:30).
For over 250 years Methodists have held an annual Covenant Renewal Service. At the heart of the service is the 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. Amen
In the Covenant Service we are reminded that, in Jesus Christ, God has established a “New Covenant” with us. In the “New Covenant” our sins are forgiven and God’s law is written on our hearts (Jer. 31:31ff). The Covenant Prayer helps us to respond to God’s grace. Through the prayer we are saying to God: “Yes, this is what we want to be part of. We love you, we trust you and we give ourselves completely to you”.
The words “put me to suffering” do not mean that we ask God to make us suffer. Rather they are an acknowledgement that the way of discipleship is often difficult. But, we are saying, even if it is difficult, even if we suffer for it, we will live as followers of Jesus. The words “put me to suffering” are a reminder that, even in times of sickness, darkness and despair we remain followers of Jesus and He remains in us (Jn 15:1ff`).
The prayer above is the original version. Here are two contemporary versions:
A version written by John van de Laar:
God of the Covenant,
I place my life in your hands – for it to be yours to direct and not mine
May you decide what I should do and with whom I should do it;
May you guide when I should be active and when I should rest;
May you sustain me when I am well and when I suffer;
May you be reflected in me when I am praised and when I am challenged;
May I give thanks to you when I enjoy abundance,
and when I know what it is to go without;
May my whole life be given in service of your love and salvation,
use all that I have and all that I am for your purposes;
And may I always remember that you, O God, and I belong to each other.
This is my commitment – I stand by it.
And I ask that you, Jesus, bear witness to it.
A version written by Morag Venter (our Sunday School Superintendent) for use by our Sunday School:
I realise that I belong to you, God
so show me what you want me to do
whether it means I become important or not.
In everything I do or have to endure,
when I work and when I have nothing to do,
when I am successful and when I fail,
when I am full of joy and when I am sad,
when life is going well and when things are in a mess,
I willingly offer myself and everything I have to serve you
-wherever you want to use me.
I am your child and you are my Father.
May it be so for ever and ever.
I am promising this, but it is only with your powerful help that I shall be able to keep this promise.
Here are two other prayers that I have found useful in preparing for the Covenant Service:
open my eyes that I may see the needs of others;
open my ears that I may hear their cries;
open my heart so that they need not be without succour;
Let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong,
nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to those places.
And so open my eyes and my ears
that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for thee.
Today, O Lord, I say YES!
to all that is true, and good and beautiful.
I pray that you too will join the family of DMC on Sunday as we re-affirm our desire to follow Jesus and become A Family Aflame, Sharing God’s Love with All.
You can download a copy of this note from the link below: