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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.

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Covenant Renewal Service

(taken from the United Methodist Book of Worship, 1993)

2004 New Years Sunday

January 3, 2004

Description:

“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

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Opening Prayer –

Creative God,

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

(arrangement of two prayers found on pages 289 and 295)

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Opening Songs of Praise -

#201 – Create In Me A Clean Heart

#224 – Change My Heart O God

Giving Ourselves and Our Offerings Back to God

*#94 – Doxology & Prayer over our giving

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise God, all creatures here below;

Al-le-lu-ia! Al-le-lu-ia!

Praise God, the source of all our gifts;

Praise Jesus Christ, whose power uplifts.

Praise the Spirit, Holy Spirit,

Al-le-lu-ia! Al-le-lu-ia! Al-le-lu-ia!

Children’s Message – “Praying Over New Year’s Resolutions”

(Following the children’s sermon, preschool children are invited to the nursery downstairs while children through the 4th grade are welcome to join our children’s church in the library.)

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Children’s Message –

[Each bulletin has a piece of paper in it for people to make their resolutions. Children will pick

these up toward the end of the children’s message.]

- Ask the children if they’ve ever heard of “making resolutions.”

- Have the children come up with some resolutions.

- Tell the story of 2 Chronicles 15:9-15

King Asa “did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” 14:2

He ordered that all the idols had to be removed, that the wooden images had to be burned, and

that the temples to other Gods had to be torn down.

When we was done, a message came to him through a prophet, that said, “The Lord is with

you while you are with Him. If you seek Him. He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (15:2b)

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