Monday, December 27, 2010

John Wesley's Covenant Service


Each year, John Wesley - the founder of Methodism - would begin the New Year with a "Covenant Service." (We follow this same tradition at Hayward Wesleyan Church, by incorporating Wesley's Covenant into the worship service on the first Sunday of each New Year.)

The heart of the service, focused in the Covenant Prayer, requires persons to commit themselves anew to God.

Scriptures read at this service included Deuteronomy 31: 9-13, Jeremiah 31: 31-34, Psalm 50, and John 15: 1-8.

The Prayer of Invitation from this service follows:

Commit yourselves to Christ as his servants. Give yourselves to him, that you may belong to him.

Christ has many services to be done. Some are more easy and honorable, others are more difficult and disgraceful. Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both.

In some we may please Christ and please ourselves. But then there are other works where we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.

It is necessary, therefore, that we consider what it means to be a servant of Christ. Let us, therefore, go to Christ, and pray:
Let me be your servant, under your command. I will no longer be my own. I will give up myself to your will in all things.

Lord, make me what you will. I put myself fully into your hands:

put me to doing, put me to suffering,
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,

let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and with a willing heart
give it all to your pleasure and disposal.

I do here covenant with you, O Christ,
to take my lot with you as it may fall.

Through your grace I promise
that neither life nor death shall part me from you.

I make this covenant with you, O God,
without guile or reservation.

If any falsehood should be in it, guide me
and help me to set it aright.

Mighty God,
let this covenant I have made on earth
be ratified in heaven

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Amen
.

John Wesley, circa 1780

1 comment:

Dan Wallis said...

Hey Mark, how's it going? This is Dan Wallis (from FLAME - I took Evangelism and Church Health with you last year) - I'm the Welsh guy! Funny thing is my Senior Pastor (Craig Peters) and I decided we're going to be doing the John Wesley Covenant Service this Sunday. I did a search and your blog was item number 2 in the list I think.
My question is this: do you bring the language of the service up to date, or read it verbatim? If you do modernize the language, do you have a copy of the text I could use.
Blessings!
Cheers
Dan
PS For your "E+CH" course you teach for FLAME, an "easy to read" book you might be interested in, for the pre-course work, which takes the form of a 40 day journey is Lee Strobels and Mark Mittelberg's "The Unexpected Adventure" (http://scr.bi/ayl46T). It's not too profound or scholarly, but is a great way of keeping evangelism in our minds. Just a thought! Cheers (PS If you do have the Covenant Service in modern English, could you email it to me - its.dan.wallis@gmail.com