Monday, January 10, 2011

Covenant Service

(Adapted from The United Methodist Book of Worship and The United Methodist Hymnal)
Commit yourselves to Christ.
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,
cannot love Christ,
except by denying ourselves.

Let us, therefore, go to Christ, and pray:

I am no longer mine, but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing,
put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you
or brought low 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.

Christ will be the Savior of his servants.
Christ will have no servants except by consent;
Christ will not accept anything except full consent to all he requires.
Christ will be all in all, or he will be nothing.

God requires that you shall put away all your idols.

From the bottom of my heart, I renounce them all,
covenanting with you that no known sin shall be allowed in my life.

Through Christ, God offers to be your God again.

Before all heaven and earth,
I choose you as my Lord and my God.
I take you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for my portion,
and vow to give up myself, body and soul, as your child,
to follow you in love and faithfulness all the days of my life.

Historical Note:
The Covenant Service goes back to the writing of Richard Alleine, a Puritan, whose work was included by John Wesley (the father figure of the Methodist movement) in his reference collection, A Christian Library. Wesley adapted it for use in worship in 1755 and used the covenant service as he visited the Methodist Societies across the British Isles. He wrote in his journal that it was regularly “an occasion for a variety of spiritual experiences” including “a sense of pardon,” “full salvation,” and “a fresh manifestation of [God’s] graces.” While the language is updated and abridged, it remains a series of dramatic and demanding prayers offering total devotion to God in Christ.

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