We often lack the commitment, the means, or the time to make those goals a reality. We often get distracted by all the shiny things that the world has to offer, the mountain of information that beckons us to climb.
In the history of Rev. John Wesley and the Methodist movement, New Year’s Day represented something far different.
It was not so much a goal setting as a “covenant-making”. (or “re-making” as the case may be.)
Instead of parties, Wesley encouraged all his brothers and sisters in the faith to pray together.
Instead of bemoaning past failures, he called for a recognition that God is with us still in the presence of Jesus the Christ, filling us with his Holy Spirit, conquering everything, even death.
(On his deathbed, Rev. Wesley’s last words were: “And the best of all is, God, is with us.”)
His Covenant Prayer is often used in Methodist circles all around the world.
“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 on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen
(We’ll be using this prayer over the next few Sundays.
Join us live or online and pray it with us.)
We are beginning a New Year, 2023, and it will be another “Post-Covid” year.
We will continue to grapple with how the pandemic has affected us, with rebuilding our lives and renewing our spiritual lives. The world around us is different and we are different as well.
We could just rebuild what once was and pretend nothing has changed. Or we can let it be a time of dreaming and visioning about what God wants us to be, of being open to the winds of the Holy Spirit.
The opening of the Acts 2 may not surprise us, but it surprised those who first read it.
It was the young who usually had the dreams of the future and the older, wiser, and more experienced who had the visions and lessons of the past.
In Acts 2, God surprises the young with the wisdom and visions, and the elderly are filled with dreams of the future, not the other way around!
Currently, we have a congregation missing a very important group of people: children and their parents. We have an active and faithful Children’s ministry team, but as yet, the children are few and far between. We have classes to help parents grow in their faith, but many parents are missing as well.
This situation is undoubtedly related to the “Great Covid Dislocation” that we’ve all just lived through. It’s left us with lingering fears of new infections, sending shudders through all young parents.
Large gatherings are looked upon with suspicion and are to be avoided in possible. Fear grips us and our parents in a deep and profound way.
In the face of these challenges, we pray….
“Fill us with Dreams and Visions!”
“Renew us to rebuild your church!”
“Give us the courage to think ‘outside the box',
Fill us with the strength of your Holy Spirit!”
“Help us see that we are truly living on your
'Porch of Heaven' that you have
created around us- - - - - !!!"
What can you do? Perhaps you can help us plan outdoor activities! To think of ideas to reach families ready to explore new ways of relating to God!
Perhaps you join us every week as we seek a new and creative future where our Spiritual lives become more important than our material ones.
These are a few of the prayers, hopes, the dreams that God has given me. I hope and pray that you share them as well.
Join us on the Sundays of January as we pray Wesley’s Covenant Pray and listen for God.
Call me, drop me a note ([email protected]), and let’s share what God is putting on our hearts.
Grace and Peace,
Co-Pastor of First UMC: San Gabriel.