Covenant

This is an adapted reblog from http://diggingalot.org/diggingalot/?p=7802

I will paste in the next paragraph, but this has added poignancy- this will be the last Covenant Service I will lead whilst in pastoral charge of a congregation (Of course, I may do others, but never in a church I lead- unless, of course, I go back into full time ministry). These words and why we use them mean so much to me- especially now: I do not fully know the way ahead.

This is a Sunday where we renew our promises with God. ‘We’ is important: it is not an individual thing, it is something we do together.

I was never a fan of written liturgy, but as I get older I have come to realise that my words are too many and fallible. Sometimes I need to hear words that have lasted for ages. So this morning I will be using most of the written service.

This is the prayer at the centre. In an individualised, I can be who I want to be culture, it is like a cold shower:-

‘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.’

A study guide says about this:-

‘The traditional Covenant prayer (shown above) makes it very clear that this affirmation is a serious one that embraces the whole of our life, in all its parts. Most people find it quite tough to say, and really mean it. But the prayer is so central to the Christian life that other Churches have also adopted it.

In our culture we tend to prize our ability to make decisions and choose our own path in life. It can feel very hard to give that up. But this prayer is like a love poem. It is about surrendering to God in love and joy’.

http://www.methodist.org.uk/who-we-are/what-is-distinctive-about-methodism/a-covenant-with-god

More info:-

http://www.methodist.org.uk/who-we-are/what-is-distinctive-about-methodism/a-covenant-with-god/the-covenant-service

I’d go with that

Covenant

A covenant with God

I blog this every year. This Sunday I do the 2nd Covenant Service of the year (Methodist years begin on Sept 1st). It is a Sunday where we renew our promises with God. ‘We’ is important: it is not an individual thing, it is something we do together.

I was never a fan of written liturgy, but as I get older I have come to realise that my words are too many and fallible. Sometimes I need to hear words that have lasted for ages. So this morning I will be using most of the written service.

This is the prayer at the centre. In an individualised, I can be who I want to be culture, it is like a cold shower:-

‘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.’

A study guide says about this:-

‘The traditional Covenant prayer (shown above) makes it very clear that this affirmation is a serious one that embraces the whole of our life, in all its parts. Most people find it quite tough to say, and really mean it. But the prayer is so central to the Christian life that other Churches have also adopted it.

In our culture we tend to prize our ability to make decisions and choose our own path in life. It can feel very hard to give that up. But this prayer is like a love poem. It is about surrendering to God in love and joy’.

http://www.methodist.org.uk/who-we-are/what-is-distinctive-about-methodism/a-covenant-with-god

More info:-

http://www.methodist.org.uk/who-we-are/what-is-distinctive-about-methodism/a-covenant-with-god/the-covenant-service

I’d go with that

Covenant

C.S.Lewis said:

‘Nothing that you have not given will ever really be yours’

….which is powerfully counter-cultural IMHO. This Sunday I will lead another Covenant Service. A Covenant Service is uniquely Methodist: we renew our committment to the way of Jesus together and we use this prayer, which is not asking us to suffer, but is in response to God’s love and move towards us:

‘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.’

(More at http://www.methodist.org.uk/who-we-are/what-is-distinctive-about-methodism/a-covenant-with-god)

Its an asbo weekend part 2

asbo new year

True- so true. But… this time of year is ‘Covenant season’: the time when I lead Covenant services in the churches that I have.

Each year I do this, I get more liturgical (a trend I resist most other times of the year)… I want tramlines. Once a year I want to use words that are not mine- that someone else has formed, words that stop it being, to paraphrase Depeche Mode ‘my own personal Jesus’.

If you go to a Methodist Church you will have used these words. I also posted them last year:-

(note- where it says ‘I’- this is set in the context of a service where it is very much ‘us’ together).

‘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.’

 

…and I’m thinking about Grace and all that that means….

(no prizes there for spotting the Deacon Blue lyric…)….but I am thinking about last nights quote…

One of the privileges of having a degree in politics (apart from being able to boast that you have a degree in politics. I have 3 degrees (no…I am not going to make Motown jokes..) not that I ever boast about and draw attention to it, but I do have 3 degrees. Yes me….3 degrees…but I’m not boasting..)... is that you don’t have to read primary sources but that you can affect greater knowledge than you actually have by quoting secondary sources.

So with that in mind, I have never actually seen this TV programme:-

This man is a rev and more popular than me: what is wrong with the world?

…. I could make loads of comments about it; I’d like to travel that much, can one seriously ‘understand’ faith’ as a ‘tourist’, would your faith mean anything if you were prepared to try everything, maybe we could all do with time to experience the ‘other’ from inside, please send me to foreign places and pay for me and put me on TV….. but I’m not. Instead I want to quote something from ….

the-observer

…which is the newspaper of all right on and trendy (or at least they think they are) lefties who come from nefarious parts of Hampstead (apart from the latter, all those descriptions apply to me)  ….

In the TV section this week, the reviewer notes, approvingly, of  the Rev Peter Owen Jones:-

‘He bonds with men and women from a myriad of beliefs and shows a respect and tolerance that sadly few today would associate with his vocation.’

and

‘…though one does wonder at the impression upon his possibly less broad-minded parishioners watching back in Suffolk.’

Now, leaving aside the issue of the Observer’s often hostile, or at least peeved, reaction to established Christianity and also the place of ‘tolerance’ as a Christian virtue ( God seems to go both beyond ‘tolerence’ in his approach to humanity-think Jesus and beyond intolerance in his reaction to evil/sin/injustice) …. don’t you think that both those comments are very sad?

Another covenant service this weekend. We will use the words of Psalm 51 again:-

Have mercy on me, O God,

in your constant love;

in the fullness of your mercy

blot out my offences.

Wash away all my guilt,

and cleanse me from my sin.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

Give me the joy of your help again

and strengthen me with a willing spirit.

  I wonder, if we held those words as being real, if we’d love others first before shooting ungrace at them? If we would maybe think about grace and all that it means?

I hope so, but personally I’m still working on it.

Covenant

‘One of the liturgical jewels that methodism brings to the ecumenical table’.

Don’t you wish that there was a church version of ‘Pseuds corner?’ (for non British readers, that is a column in ‘Private Eye’ for overblown, stuck up your bottom, language). What for instance is a ‘liturgical jewel’- is it more or less valuable than a small diamond/piece of gold/ruby/zirconite/beach glass? And what, pray tell, is an ecumenical table? Is it stored in a cupboard at a church HQ somewhere to be bought out for ecumenical discussions: ‘Sorry lads- that is the ‘Real Presence’ table; please could you get the Ecumenical Table in; you know the one that doesn’t quite balance and is a bit battered and embarrasing. Whilst you are at it; phone Security- we have an ecumenical jewel coming in today’.

I like the Covenant Service- it is a kind of health check, a reminder at the start of the year. I don’t like the service fully from the service book. It can become too po-faced and stern (and why do we often think that that is good in a church setting?). It can confuse seriousness with plain boring and tends to shut all ages out IMHO.

See this from the excellent Dave Walker:-http://www.cartoonchurch.com/blog/
However- this morning I will use one of the versions of ‘the prayer’ in its entireity. I always do. I/we face many big possible life changes in the next few weeks. I haven’t a clue what to pray. Sometimes written stuff helps. This prayer, said in a community with others, stops my prayers becoming ‘Me Me’:-

‘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.’

(check out: http://www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.content&cmid=1499)

That will be one of several moments of stillness in an ‘all age’ service this morning (I like ‘all age’- lots of opps for light and shade, stillness and movement and formality and informality- ie a life-filled occasion).

I did google ‘comedy vicar’ for a picture for this post and it only came up with this, which I like immensely (see asbojesus in links):-

nb: Middlesbrough v Barrow yesterday was not like watching Brazil, but it was exciting (and very cold).