add a sprinkle of Wesley for good measure….

Wesley Covenant Prayer 1780
“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 for 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.”

One of the unique wonders of serving at an interdenominational congregation is the intentionality behind honoring various Christian traditions.  Throughout the Church calendar, different prayers, ceremonies and services are incorporated in worship at The American Church in Paris, and I personally have deeply appreciated and been blessed by the richness in this. While it is true that the majority of our congregation does not come from a Methodist background, some families do.  In fact, in the spirit of ecumenism, our new visiting pastor of weddings is ordained in the Methodist Church. (We now have a Presbyterian (PCUSA), Lutheran, Methodist, and C&MA….sounds like the beginning of a bad joke!)

More importantly is the great influence that Wesley and the Methodist denomination has within Christianity. Therefore, like all traditions and denominations, we seek ways to learn and honor together.

Today, on the first Sunday of the New Year, we concluded The Sacrament of Holy Communion with a collective Prayer of Thanksgiving and Rededication. For the prayer, we used the Wesleyan Covenant Prayer, also known as A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition. This is a prayer adopted by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism,

In his Short history of the people called Methodists (1781), Wesley describes the first covenant service; a similar account is to be found in his Journal of the time. Wesley says that the first service was held on Monday 11 August 1755, at the French church at Spitalfields in London, with 1800 people present. He reports that he “recited the tenor of the covenant proposed, in the words of that blessed man, Richard Alleine“. The words of that original covenant prayer are lost, but are thought to be reflected in the Directions for Renewing our Covenant with God which Wesley issued as a pamphlet in 1780.

For our purposes, we adopted and modified the Covenant prayer as a Prayer of Thanksgiving and Rededication following the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

What I so love about this prayer is how it resembles wedding vows and the covenant of love offered between spouses.  I think it would be great if couples once a year (or at every few years), rededicated their vows to one another. There is beauty and wonder if the retelling and reaffirming of love.

As Christians, the united family of God, we embark on a new year together. It is appropriate to rededicate ourselves as individuals and as a community to our loving partner.  Weekly, our worship services should be a place for us to hear and be reaffirmed of God’s promises and vows to us.  The various sacraments can serve as dispensers of grace and reminders of God’s covenant with us.  Hopefully, each day and certainly each time we gather for worship, we remind each other of our commitment to Christ and his Church.

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Rededication-

The American Church in Paris, Jan 1st, 2012 New Year’s Day

“Today, Gracious God, we give you thanks and praise for your goodness and mercy revealed to us in Jesus Christ.  As we have feasted with you here this day, we pray that you will sustain us in this new year, that we would be faithful disciples of our Lord.

I give myself completely to you, god. Assign me to my place in your creation.

Let me suffer for you.

Give me the work you would have me do.  Give me many tasks, or have me step aside while you call others.

Put me forward or humble me. Give me riches or let me live in poverty.

I freely give all that I am and all that I have to you.

And now, holy God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

You are mine and I am yours.

So be it.

May this covenant on earth continue for all eternity.

Amen.

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