Summary: Taken from the United Methodist Book of Worship, this service, often used by John Wesley, allows the congregation to recommit their covenant to God in the New Year.
Covenant Renewal Service
(taken from the United Methodist Book of Worship, 1993)
2004 New Years Sunday
January 3, 2004
“In 1663 Richard Alleine, a Puritan, published Vindiciae Pietatis: or, A Vindication of Godliness in the Greater Strictness and Spirituality of It. In 1753, it was again published in John Wesley’s A Christian Library. Wesley used one chapter, "The Application of the Whole," on Monday, August 11, 1755, in what probably was the first real celebration of the Covenant Service in the Methodist movement.
Wesley found the service rich and meaningful, as expressed in his Journal: "Many mourned before God, and many were comforted" (April 1756); "It was, as usual, a time of remarkable blessing" (October 1765); "It was an occasion for a variety of spiritual experiences ... I do not know that ever we had a greater blessing. Afterwards many desired to return thanks, either for a sense of pardon, for full salvation, or for a fresh manifestation of His graces, healing all their backslidings" (January 1, 1775). In London these services were usually held on New Year’s Day. Around the country the Covenant Service was conducted whenever John Wesley visited the Methodist Societies.
After the time of Wesley several versions of the Covenant Service were developed, gradually giving Wesley’s material less place in the total service. The present service follows our Basic Pattern of worship, enables the congregation to participate more fully, and updates language. Most significant, the liturgy beginning with the Invitation is taken directly from Wesley’s service of 1780.
The heart of the service, focused in the Covenant Prayer, requires persons to commit themselves to God. This covenant is serious and assumes adequate preparation for and continual response to the
covenant. Leaders of worship must take seriously the need to prepare the congregation for this service, possibly through study sessions and prayer.” (p.288)
------indicates what’s in the bulletin--------------
Gathering & Time of Preparation (Please take this time to prepare
yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually for worship.)
Lighting of the Candles
Welcome, Introductions, & Announcements
*Greetings of Fellowship
*Song of gathering – #70 – Glory Be To The Father
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
world without end, Amen, Amen.
Opening Prayer –
You make all things new in heaven and on earth. We come to you in a new year with new desires and old fears, new decisions and old controversies, new dreams and old weaknesses.
Because you are a God of hope, we know that you create all the possibilities of the future.
Because you are a God of love, we know that you accept all the mistakes of the past.
Because you are the God of our faith, we enter your gates with thanksgiving and praise,
we come into your presence with praise.
As we come to enter anew into covenant with you, remove any reluctance or falsehood in us. May all that we say, all that we sing, all that we think, and all that we do, bring glory unto you. In the name of the One who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen