January 24, 2021 Bulletin
Wesley Covenant Renewal Service
John Wesley's Covenant Renewal Service is an adaptation of a service of renewal he experienced which he found to be rich and meaningful. A couple of his journal entries regarding his experience were, "Many mourned before God, and many were comforted." "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." The heart of the service, focused in the Covenant Prayer, requires persons to commit themselves to God.
Since the Covenant Renewal Service is heavy on liturgy which utilizes congregational participation, the 'Wesley Covenant Service' portion of today's worship service is also available as separate document for download/printing.
Prelude “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian”
Arr. by Brian Glyncannon
Welcoming and Call to Worship
Hymn "Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine” UMH #606
1. Come, let us use the grace divine, and all with one accord,
in a perpetual covenant join ourselves to Christ the Lord;
Give up ourselves, thru Jesus' power, his name to glorify;
and promise, in this sacred hour, for God to live and die.
2. The covenant we this moment make be ever kept in mind;
we will no more our God forsake, or cast these words behind.
We never will throw off the fear of God who hears our vow;
and if thou art well pleased to hear, come down and meet us now.
3. Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, let all our hearts receive,
present with thy celestial host the peaceful answer give;
to each covenant the blood apply which takes our sins away,
and register our names on high and keep us to that day!
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Special Music "All Who Believe"
Pearl Swanson, Tom Norager, Cathy & Steve Grattan
Arr. by Lloyd Larson
1 From the rising of the sun to where it sets,
God, the Lord God, speaks,
calling out to the earth.
2 From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines brightly.
3 Our God is coming;
he won’t keep quiet.
A devouring fire is before him;
a storm rages all around him.
4 God calls out to the skies above
and to the earth in order to judge his people:
5 “Bring my faithful to me,
those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
6 The skies proclaim his righteousness
because God himself is the judge. Selah
7 “Listen, my people, I will now speak;
Israel, I will now testify against you.
I am God—your God!
8 I’m not punishing you for your sacrifices
or for your entirely burned offerings,
which are always before me.
9 I won’t accept bulls from your house
or goats from your corrals
10 because every forest animal already belongs to me,
as do the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every mountain bird;
even the insects in the fields are mine.
12 Even if I were hungry, I wouldn’t tell you
because the whole world and everything in it already belong to me.
13 Do I eat bulls’ meat?
Do I drink goats’ blood?
14 Offer God a sacrifice of thanksgiving!
Fulfill the promises you made to the Most High!
15 Cry out to me whenever you are in trouble;
I will deliver you, then you will honor me.”
Wesley's Covenant Service (also available as a separate document for download)
Dearly loved brothers and sisters, the Christian life is a life found in Christ, redeemed from sin, and made holy and blessed by God. We are those who have entered into this life and have been admitted into the new covenant of Jesus Christ. He is the Mediator of this covenant. He sealed it with his own blood so it would last forever.
On one side of this covenant stands God. God promises to give us new life in Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. Every day God proves his goodness and grace to us, showing us that his promise still stands firm.
On the other side stand us. We stand as those who promise to no longer live life for ourselves but instead to only live for Jesus Christ because he has loved us and given his life for us.
There are times in our lives when it is important for us to remember and reaffirm our promises and vows. In this same way, we come today to renew our covenant with God. Many generations have done this before us. Today we make the covenant our own, renewing with both joy and sincerity the covenant that binds us all to God.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION & WORDS OF ASSURANCE
We are those who seek to live as true disciples of Jesus Christ, but sometimes we fall short. Let us now examine ourselves before God, humbly confessing our sins and submitting our hearts so that we do not deceive ourselves and cut ourselves away from God. Therefore, let us pray:
Father God, you have set forth the way of life through your Son Jesus Christ, whom you love dearly. We shamefully confess that we have been slow to learn of him and have been reluctant to follow him. You have spoken and called to us, but we have not listened. You have revealed your beauty to us, but we have been blind. You have stretched out your hands to us through our friends, but we have passed by them. We have accepted your gifts and offered little thanks. We are unworthy of your unchanging love.
Please forgive us for the poverty of our worship….for the selfishness of our prayers….for our inconsistency and unbelief….for the ways we neglect fellowship and your grace….for our hesitation to tell others about Christ….for the ways we deceive others.
Forgive us for when we waste time and when we misuse the gifts you have given us.
Forgive us for when we have made excuses for the wrong things we have done and when we have purposefully avoided responsibility.
Forgive us that we have been unwilling to overcome evil with good and that we have not been ready to carry our cross. Forgive us that we have not allowed your love to work through us to help others and that we have not made their suffering our own. Forgive us for those times when instead of working for unity we made it hard for others to live with us because of our lack of forgiveness, inconsiderate judgment, and quick criticism.
Forgive us for when we have not tried to reconcile with others and when we have been slow to seek redemption.
Forgive us also for these sins that we silently confess to you now….
God, the Father of all mercies, is faithful to cleanse us from our sins and restore us to Christ’s image. Praise and glory be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.
Let us who are gathered before the Lord now in covenant commit ourselves to Christ as his servants. Let us willingly give ourselves to him so that we may fully belong to him.
Jesus Christ has called each us to serve him in our world in one capacity or another. Some of these services are easy and honorable, but some are difficult and outrageous. Some line up with our personal desires and interests, others are contrary to both. In some we please both Christ and ourselves; but then there are other works where we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves and doing the work despite our feelings. Therefore, Jesus, we offer you this prayer:
Let me be your servant, let me follow your commands.
I will no longer follow my own desires.
I will give myself completely to your will in all aspects of life.
The power and strength to live as true servants is given to us in Christ. We accept the place and work that he gives us, acknowledging that he alone will be our reward.
Lord, I am not my own.
I am Yours alone.
Make me into what you will.
Rank me with those you will.
Put me to use for you. Put me to suffering for you.
Let me be employed for you. Let me be laid aside for you.
Let me be lifted high for you. Let me be brought low for you.
Let me be full or let me be empty.
Let me have all things or let me have nothing.
With a willing heart, I freely give everything to your pleasure and disposal.
Christ is Savior to those who are his true servants. He is the source of all salvation to those who obey. To be his servant is to consent fully to his will. Christ accepts nothing less. Christ will be all in all, or he will be nothing.
Now confirm this truth in holy covenant. Make it a reality in your life in these three ways:
First, set apart time in your day, more than once, to be spent alone with the Lord. Seek to perceive God’s special care for you and gracious acceptance of you. Carefully think through the words of this covenant and its conditions. Examine your heart, even if you have freely given your life to Christ. Name the sins in your life. Reflect on whether you are willing to choose Christ’s holy laws and strict commands. Be sure you are clear in all of these, so you do not lie to God!
Second, uphold a serious spirit of holy awe and reverence. (In the Bible, this is called “fear of the Lord”.)
Third, claim God’s covenant. Do not trust in your own strength and power but rely upon God’s promise of giving grace and strength. In this way, he will empower you to keep your promise.
Fourth, be determined to be faithful. You have given your heart and life to God. You have opened your mouth to dedicate yourself to the Lord. With God’s power, never go back to your former way of living.
And last, be prepared to renew your covenant with God. Fall on your knees. Lift your hands. Open your hearts.
By God’s grace, and only by God’s grace, let us offer this our covenant prayer to God:
My righteous God, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, see me now as I fall down before you. Forgive my unfaithfulness when I have not done your will. You promise mercy if I turn to you with my whole heart.
God requires that you rid yourself of every idol in your life.
From the bottom of my heart, I here and now renounce every idol in my life, covenanting with you that I will not commit any known sin. By turning against your will, I have turned my love toward the world. In your power I will watch for any temptation that will lead me away from you.
Through Jesus Christ, God offers to be your God again, if you allow him to be.
Before all heaven and earth, I here and now acknowledge you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as my Lord and God. I vow to give all of myself, body, and soul, to be your servant and to serve you in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life.
Jesus Christ is the only way and means to God. God has given us Jesus as the way and means to salvation.
Jesus, I here and now accept you and the only new and living Way. I join myself in covenant with you. I come to you hungry, sinful, miserable, blind, and naked, unworthy even to wash the feet of your servants. With all my power, I accept you as my Lord and Head. I renounce my own unworthiness, and vow that you are the Lord, my righteousness. I renounce my own wisdom and take you for my only guide. I renounce my own will and take your will as my law.
Christ has told you that you must suffer with him.
Jesus, I here and now make this covenant with you and accept whatever comes in life. Through your grace I promise that neither life nor death will separate me from you.
God has given holy laws as the rule of your life.
I here and now willingly take on your yoke and burden. All your laws are holy, just, and good. I accept them as the rule for my words, thoughts, and actions, promising I will strive to order my whole life around your direction. I will not allow myself to neglect anything I know to be my duty.
The Almighty God searches and knows you, even the thoughts of your heart.
O God, you know that we have made this covenant today in sincerity, without deceit or reluctance. If you find anything false in us, guide us and help us to set it right. And now, glory be to you, God the Father. From this day forward, I shall look upon you as my God and Father. Glory be to you, God the Son. You have loved me and washed me from my sins in your own blood. From this day forward, I shall look upon you as my Savior and Redeemer. Glory be to you, O God the Holy Spirit. By your almighty power, you have turned my heart from sin to God. From this day forward I shall look upon you as my Comforter and Guide. O mighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you have now become my Covenant Friend. And I, through your infinite grace, have become your covenant servant. You are mine and I am Yours. So be it. May this covenant that I have made here on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen.
DISMISSAL WITH BLESSING
May our God, who establishes covenant relationship with those who seek to enter the Kingdom, be with you always. May Jesus Christ, who seals the new covenant with his blood on the cross, bring you peace. May the Holy Spirit guide your life both now and forever. Go in peace to serve the Lord!
Invitation to Give and Offertory "Grace Alone"
Pearl Swanson, Tom Norager, Cathy & Steve Grattan
Hymn "I Surrender All" UMH #354
1. All to Jesus I surrender; all to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all, all to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
2. All to Jesus I surrender; humbly at his feet I bow;
worldly pleasures all forsaken; take me, Jesus, take me now. [Refrain]
3. All to Jesus I surrender; make me, Savior, wholly thine;
let me feel the Holy Spirit, truly know that thou art mine. [Refrain]
4. All to Jesus I surrender; Lord, I give myself to thee;
fill me with thy love and power; let thy blessing fall on me. [Refrain]
5. All to Jesus I surrender; now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory to his name! [Refrain]
Postlude “I Surrender All”
Arr. by James M. Stevens