We are at the cusp of a brand new year, 2018. Its a time of reflection on the events of 2017, and a time of celebration of a fresh new start in a brand new year. As we each look back at everything we lived through this year, we are full of hope and gratitude. Some may be hoping for a far better year ahead. We often take the time in the new year to make promises of self-improvements and create resolutions that we hope will last through the end of January. Even possibly to the first fruits of spring. This time is good for the soul and refreshing for the spirit.
Buried deep within our Wesleyan Heritage, we find a history of early Methodists gathering on New Year’s Eve for a Watch Night Service. They gathered close to midnight and they brought in the new year together. The purpose of worshiping together was to spend time in prayer, to renew their covenant as Christians, and to celebrate God’s place and presence in the world. While the Covenant Renewal Service is a full and weighty service, one of my favorite parts of it is the covenant prayer.
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 in earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
Join me in praying this prayer at the beginning of this New Year. Even though the words are old, and are definitely far removed from our every day language, I find it comforting and unifying to pray these words that were prayed by faithful Christians centuries ago. Solidarity is powerful, even through my IPad has tried to autocorrect every single “thee” and “thou” as I have typed this post. Join me in surrendering this year to God. Join me in surrendering your life to God. Join me in this covenant to be faithful, receptive, and in service to Christ in this brand new year, 2018.
-Rev. Becky Brown