Yesterday we only had one service at church due to the fact that New Year's Sunday being a day with low attendance typically. I hate that the 350 people who attended church on Christmas Eve weren't in attendance yesterday morning, because it was a service like none I have ever experienced before.
Hubs had mentioned to me that we were doing a Wesleyan Covenant Service for the first Sunday of the New Year and had even explained a bit about what that meant. But I didn't think much about it. Then I arrived at the service.
The front of the bulletin said this:
The John Wesley Covenant Service
In his journal entry for August 6, 1755, Wesley wrote: "I mentioned to the congregation another means of increasing serious religion, which has been frequently practiced by our forefathers and attended with eminent blessing; namely, the joining in a covenant to service God with all our heart and with all our soul."
.......The service should be a reminder of our condition as sinners, our solemn obligation to reaffirm our covenant relationship with God, and an opportunity for a fresh experience of the reality of God's promises and presence.
One of the first scriptures read was this one from Jeremiah 50 in the Call to Covenant.
"Come,let us join ourselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant".
Right there, I started thinking about the seriousness of what we were doing. Of the words I was about to say and I started praying that I would mean every last word of it from the very bottom of my heart and that it wouldn't be a rote exercise. I started praying that for all who were in attendance, too.
An everlasting covenant.
How many times have I reaffirmed my covenant only to be doing it flippantly and so not at all really?
How many times have I made that covenant meaning to keep it only to break it immediately or in fairly short order?
The service went on and it was time for our Confessions. I was struck again when the leader said these words:
Are we willing to say that? Are we ready now to make Christ our high priest?
I again started thinking about the seriousness of such a commitment. DO I treat Christ like he is my High Priest? I'd venture to say that sometimes, quite often, even - I treat him like less than the High Priest he is!!
The confession went on and I was very aware of my sin and how I do not treat Jesus as I should. I do not obey as I should. I do not submit as I should. I do not serve as I should.
The Leader asked:
Do we now despair of our own goodness? Do we trust in anything but Christ?
I know that I, in that moment, was despairing of the very thought that my goodness could get me anywhere and I confess that many times I've trusted everything but Christ.
We then prayed, throwing ourselves on God's grace and mercy. I thank the Lord for both of those things.
Thankfully, next was the Assurance of Pardon. We were reminded of His wonderful word that says : If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)
Lastly, we were asked to make a Commitment to HIM!
The leader asked that we give our selves totally to the Lord. As God's servants we should relinquish all control to Christ.
Again, I was struck by those words. I remember thinking, "Can I do this? Can I really relinquish all control?" And then we prayed again. I told God that I was HIS. That I dedicated myself to HIS service. Asked that he would make me what He would. Whether the more honorable parts of the Body or least. That He would put me to doing. That he would put me to suffering. That He would let me be full or let me be empty.
Then I said this and choked through it because, though, it is what I fully want I can't say it is always true of me.....I said these words:
Lord, I freely and gladly embrace your will for me without reservation.
That. is. hard. to. do.!!
This is the covenant I made yesterday to begin a New Year serving the Lord. TO fully recognize my sinful nature and to fully recognize my need for a savior. To be who HE wants me to be, where he wants me to be, how he wants me to be and to do it all because it is HIS will for me. It is a struggle to do this freely and gladly without reservation. But, this is my goal this year. That whatever may come, that I will trust the LORD fully. That I would ever freely and gladly embrace HIS will for me without reservation.
I honestly cannot get this renewed covenant out of my head. I so wish that every last member of our church could have been in that service making the same heartfelt covenant with the LORD.
If we all made that sort of commitment to the LORD, we could really make a difference in the world. We would be a force to be reckoned with! And the devil would shudder at the thought.
It truly was an amazing, scary, incredible service. I wish that we would all be so drawn to have a renewed covenant with HIM.