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ovenantHope Springs Eternal. Newsletter No 46 - January 2022

New Year and a renewal of our Covenant with God

Methodists hold an annual Covenant Service – a celebration of all that God has done and an affirmation that we give our lives and choices to God. It is an invitation for people to renew their covenant relationship with God. Most churches hold the service at the beginning of the New Year. The Covenant Service goes back to John Wesley’s time. He wanted a form of worship which would help people open themselves more fully to God.

In 1755 Wesley created such a service, using material from earlier non-conformist thinkers (the writings of the seventeenth-century puritans divines, Joseph and Richard Alleine). Over succeeding generations, Methodists around the world have made changes to the service so that it continues to be relevant to congregations.

The aim of the service is to help people hear God’s offer and God’s challenge; to provide space for God to prompt and for people to respond. Yet, more than this, for the Covenant Service is not just a one-to-one transaction between individuals and God, it is an act of the whole faith community.

What God offers through the Covenant is a loving relationship. It is not a business contract set up between God and humanity for the provision of certain goods and services. Rather, it is the means of grace by which we accept the relationship God offers and then seek to sustain it: The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant … I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31.31, 33 (NRSV) These words are read out as part of the
Covenant Service.

The focal point of the service is the Covenant Prayer. It embraces the whole of life, in all its parts. Most people find it quite tough to say this and really mean it. It is uncomfortable and challenging. It asks questions of our faith and demands that we examine our relationship with God. The Covenant Prayer has been compared by some to a set of New Year resolutions, but ones that emphasise the importance of doing and being as much as believing. But more than that, the prayer represents a commitment to being a disciple and putting God first in our lives and in everything about our lives: what we do, what we say and who we are. It is both a surrender to, and a trust in, God. The final few words are a gracious reminder: ‘You are mine and I am yours’. We don’t pray and live just in our own strength – but in God’s.

Wesley's Prayer
Wesleyan Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticised for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven. Amen

Services and other significant dates for December

Sunday 2nd January at 10.30 – Rob Brooks (Covenant and Sacramental Service)
Sunday 9th January at 10.30 - Susan McArthur
Wednesday 12th January at 19.30 Church Council Meeting in the Fellowship Room
Sunday 16th January at 10.30 – Fellowship Led Worship
Sunday 23rd January at 10.30 – Rob Brooks
Sunday 30th January at 10.30 – Diane Bennett

Prayer
Regular Sunday Morning Meeting for Prayer

From Sunday 9th of January, a regular period of prayer will be held in the vestry each week prior to the Sunday Morning Service at 10.00. All are welcome and will conclude at 10.15. We have much to pray about during the present difficult times. If you are unable to attend in person but wish for prayers for a specific need then please advise Roy, Brenda, or Veronica. Written requests for prayer can be left in the offertory plate at the entrance to church.

Uncertainty surrounding Covid

At the time of writing the number of COVID infections are rising rapidly and it is still not clear whether the Government will impose further restrictions and how this will impact on attendance at Places of Worship. We intend to hold our regular Sunday Worship until such a time that the Government rules otherwise.

Please wear a face mask when in church unless medical reasons prevent you. Use the available hand gel on entry. Be mindful of social distancing on entry, when choosing seating, and on leaving. To assist with social distancing, hymn books and bibles will be placed in alternative pews. Should we be forced to close then services will be held on Zoom.

Tea and Coffee
Tea and Coffee following Morning Worship.

This will now be served in the hall after services on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month unless otherwise announced. So please come along and join us for a little chat and conversation.

Hybrid Worship.

Continues through Zoom. Meeting ID 874 0789 6194 and Password 427632. Audio copies of all services on CD are available. Recordings can also be accessed via the internet. Brenda will be able to provide information about both.

Bible Thoughts.

Luke 2:21, He was named Jesus. The name Jesus derives from the Hebrew ‘Yasha’ meaning to be at ease, free to develop unhindered, wholeness and salvation. Quite interesting attributes. Could you add to these?

‘Lord Jesus take me as I am, where you will. Do with me what you will this New Year and always.

January birthdays and other celebrations.

2nd – Pam and Doug Jones wedding anniversary.
3rd – Sue McArthur’s 60th birthday.
7th - Christine and Eric Willits wedding anniversary.
12th - Christine Willets birthday.
15th – Kath and Tony Middleton wedding anniversary.
19th - Betty Rowlands birthday.
25th – Janice Kennedy and Joyce Caffrey birthdays.
31st Mike and Anita Lynskey wedding anniversary.

Winter Blues
Dealing with ‘winter blues’ during the pandemic

Here is a suggestion to help you to take care of your mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic over the winter months. If you find your mood or energy level drops during a particular season such as winter, you might find information on ‘seasonal affective disorder’ (SAD) helpful on the MIND website.

During the lockdown, do not forget to ask for help should you need it. Also do not hesitate to contact Rob, Anne, or your cluster leader for a simple chat if you would just like to talk to someone.