New Year’s Day Meditation

January 1, 2012 The New Covenant St. Luke UMC

As the angels fly away at the end of our holiday, as the parties end and we have one or two more days before going back to work or school, let’s just notice that there is a chance to start over today.  I’m always amused by the upswing in people who join the YMCA and exercise clubs right after Christmas.  Some will be there in 2 months, but so many of us start with good intentions and then forget where we were going so quickly. Our religious traditions – Christianity and more specifically United Methodism are set up purposefully to be a constant reminder of our covenant with the Living God, or really God’s covenant with us.  What is the covenant, the oath sealed in blood that we agree to today?

John Wesley first celebrated the Covenant service in 1755 or so. He found the service rich and meaningful and wrote in his journal, “Many mourned before God, and many were comforted. I 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 afresh manifestation of His graces, healing all their backslidings” (January 1, 1775).

The Covenant service was a time of remembering God’s faithfulness, God’s everlasting covenants with humanity, and renewing our part of that covenant, accepting God’s offer of a new start and a chance to renew our promise to live not by our own way, but by God’s way. We renew this covenant every time we celebrate Holy Communion, and every time we celebrate the sacrament of baptism, which we are going to do three times in January on 2 separate Sundays!

Today we are going to use the heavy duty Wesleyan Covenant Prayer in our Communion Service at the place we usually say the Lord’s prayer.  You’ll notice that this prayer uses no uncertain terms to re-commit ourselves to God’s service and God’s love in our lives.

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.

 

If we took this prayer to heart, God would help us let go of every regret from the past year or years. If we take this prayer to heart, God will be in every intention we have for the New Year and we will be able to discern what intentions and plans we really need to go forward with.

 

May the bread of life that we eat this day connect us to all that lives.  May the sweetness of the juice bring us sweetness in a new millenium, a new beginning, a new time of possibilities for all humankind.

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 eat this bread and drink from this cup to become a part of you, as you are part of us.