From Our Pastor – January 4, 2017
Dear Members and Friends of Second Church,
John Wesley was one of the founders of what is now the United Methodist Church, one of the largest Protestant denominations in the world. It began as a gathering of Anglican clergy who met weekly. Their goal was to study the Bible, seek to live God’s will, encourage each other, and hold one another accountable. Because they were so regular with their meetings and so structured in their approach, they were mocked for being so methodical and called “methodists.”Making and keeping new year’s resolutions takes the same kind of day-in-and-day-out discipline of making a choice. At worship on Sunday, we did John Wesley’s “Service of Covenant Renewal,” and part of that was the “Covenant Promises” and how to keep the Covenant over the course of the coming year. Slightly edited, here is what Wesley suggested for his fellow “methodists”:
First, set apart time in your day, more than once, to spend time alone with the Lord. Seek to perceive God’s love for you in particular, and God’s gracious acceptance of you just the way you are. Ponder this covenant. Truly examine your heart, even if you are already a follower of Jesus. Name the sins in your life and hold yourself accountable for choosing Christ’s ways. Be honest with yourself, that you may be honest before God.
Second, uphold a serious spirit of holy awe and reverence.
Third, claim God’s promises! Do not trust in your own strength and power, but rely upon God’s promise of giving grace and strength. In this way, God will empower you to keep your promise.
Fourth, be determined to be faithful in all things. You have given your heart and life to God. You have proclaimed aloud your dedication to God. Live as a new creation in Christ!
Fifth, and last, be prepared to renew your covenant with God. Fall on your knees. Lift your hands. Open your hearts.
May this covenant from the 18th century undergird our discipleship in the year that is just now opening before us!