Covenant Sunday in Christmas
Happy New Year! Covenant Sunday comes at the very end of the Christmas season, on the Sunday closest to January first. Back in 1755, John Wesley, English founder of the Methodist movement, held his first Covenant Service of worship. Ever since then, Methodists have been encouraged to begin each new year with a portion of his Covenant Prayer, to personally commit to a living relationship with God.
So why is the idea of covenant so important? The core covenant is God’s offer of relationship in “I will be your God, and you shall be My people.” It is given to successive generations in the Scriptures, including in Jeremiah 7:23; 11:4; and 30:22. Christians call the two parts of the Bible the Old and New Testament, which is Latin for “covenant.” In the Old Testament, a “covenant” can be a treaty or agreement between two peoples, or a personal vow of friendship or marriage between two individuals. The entire Book of Deuteronomy is structured as a covenant, or vow, between God and God’s people. After many other covenants given and broken, God offers a “new covenant” with God’s people. This time it will be a covenant written upon the people’s hearts. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
This is the new covenant which Jesus offered personally to his first disciples – and to each successive generation of followers, including us – whenever we share in Communion. Having committed his life on behalf of all people, Jesus said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:20)
As we begin this new year, may you experience the blessings of a renewed, living covenant of love with God. One way to affirm it is by sharing in John Wesley’s heartfelt Covenant Prayer:
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 by 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 are mine, and I am Thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
See also: Christmas Being