covenant

No, not that one.

The Methodist one.

I’ve been pouring through piles of liturgy books and re-reading the Methodist covenant service.  The covenant service is a peculiarly Methodist thing.  I realise that it covers much of the same landscape as my version of the Maundy Thursday Vigil  — i.e., what happens in the silence as I pray through the year, the people in the room, the people on my faith journey, and then move into that other space, harder to explain.  But that is rather idiosyncratic.

It is what we are supposed to be doing each time we gather for communion, each time we renew our baptismal vows, each time we get up in the morning.   But you see, that’s the genious of Methodism.  I have a profusion of images and ideas.  They have a nice orderly service to remind you of who you are.

The congregation is asked to pray:

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Your will, not mine, be done in all things,
wherever you may place me,
in all that I do
and in all that I may endure;
when there is work for me
and when there is none;
when I am troubled
and when I am at peace.
Your will be done
when I am valued
and when I am disregarded;
when I find fulfillment
and when it is lacking;
when I have all things,
and when I have nothing.
I willingly offer
all that I have and am
to serve you,
as and where you choose.

Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
May it be so for ever.
Let this covenant now made on earth
be fulfilled in heaven.  Amen.

The Methodist Worship Book, Covenant Service

Absolutely terrifying, isn’t it?

I suspect the ones who avoid the service and say ‘no’ might be the most honest.
But the ones who keep trying to mean it stand a better chance of it one day becoming true.

7 thoughts on “covenant

  1. Think of it like ‘annual renewal of baptismal vows’ (though they probably do that too). It is part of what makes a Methodist and Methodist, a highlight of the year, and everyone is suppose to commit themselves anew to God.

    I assume this is true of Methodism in the States to. Anyone?

  2. I am never happy with God as warm fuzzy feelings. This enormous challenge is much closer to the God I am aware of – and right now, that’s as far as I can go. I too shall save this prayer.

  3. I used to be a Methodist. After the service one goes up to the hall and there makes specific commitments in different categories – if memory serves Time Money and Talents. Everybody is most definitely expected to put something in each slot, and a steward is on hand to cajole.

    After that there is a most glorious bunfight to sweeten the whole process – and which caused it to be known to my Mother as ‘the Sticky Cake Do’. Each lady and each cooking gent strove to out do the others in party food.

  4. Oh, that’s reminded me…

    I met a very clever man from the Diocese of New Hampshire who said that their church had had a huge surge in membership since the men started cooking, and having both ‘men’s breakfast meetings’ and full sit-down dinners for the congregation and local community (he raved about their roast-beef & Yorkshire pud, though that did not enthral me).

    Now, what do you think?

    Most churches I know don’t have enough men to make this work. But if the bishops started it off…

  5. The men cook at my field ed parish, which is pretty small. They eat together far too regularly for this to be good for my waistline!

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