The Covenant Service

The Covenant Service (taken from the English Methodist Service Book, pages D1 to D11:

The Preparation

Hymn

Prayer of Adoration
Let us pray.
Let us adore the Father, the God of love.
He created us; he continually preserves and sustains us; he has loved us with an everlasting love, and given us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

You are God; we praise you; we acknowledge you to be the Lord.

Let us glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor; he was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin; he went about doing good and preaching the gospel of the kingdom; he became obedient to death, death on the cross; he was dead and is alive for ever; he has opened the kingdom of heaven to all who trust in him; he sits at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father; he will come again to be our Judge.

You, Christ, are the King of Glory.

Let us rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life.
By him we are born into the family of God, and made members of the body of Christ;
his witness confirms us;
his wisdom teaches us;
his power enables us;
he will do for us far more than we ask or think.

AII praise to you, Holy Spirit.

[Silence]

Confession of Sin
Let us humbly confess our sins to God.
God our Father, you have set forth the way of life for us in your beloved Son: we confess with shame our slowness to learn of him, our failure to follow him, our reluctance to bear the cross.

Have mercy on us, Lord, and forgive us.

We confess the poverty of our worship, our neglect of fellowship and of the means of grace, our hesitating witness for Christ, our evasion of responsibilities in your service, our imperfect stewardship of your gifts.

Have mercy on us, Lord, and forgive us.

Let each of us in silence make his own confession to God.

[Silence]

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

The Minister stands and says
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Amen. Thanks be to God.

The Collect
Father, you have appointed our Lord Jesus Christ as Mediator of a new covenant: give us grace to draw near with fullness of faith and join ourselves in a perpetual covenant with you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect of the Day may also be read.

Hymn.

The Ministry of the Word

The Old Testament Lesson
The Book of Jeremiah, the thirty-first chapter, beginning at the thirty-first verse.
Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The Epistle
The Letter to the Hebrews, the twelfth chapter, beginning at the twenty-second verse.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.

Hymn

The Gospel
The Gospel according to John, the fifteenth chapter, beginning at the first verse,
The people may say: Glory to Christ our Saviour.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you, By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.

The people may say: Praise to Christ our Lord.

A hymn may be sung.

The Covenant

In the Old Covenant, God chose Israel to be his people and to obey his laws. Our Lord Jesus Christ, by his death and resurrection, has made a New Covenant with all who trust in him, We stand within this Covenant and we bear his name.
On the one side, God promises in this Covenant to give us new life in Christ. On the other side, we are pledged to live no more for ourselves but for him.
Today, therefore, we meet expressly, as generations of our fathers have met, to renew the Covenant which bound them, and binds us, to God.

This or some other hymn:

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, through Jesu’s power,
His name to glorify
And promise in this sacred hour,
For God to live and die.

The covenant we this moment make
Be ever kept in mind:
We will no more our God forsake,
Or cast his words behind.

We never will throw off his fear
Who hears our solemn vow;
And if thou art well pleased to hear,
Come down, and meet us now.

To each the covenant blood apply,
Which takes our sins away;
And register our names on high,
And keep us to that day. Amen.

The people stand, and the Minister says:
Beloved in Christ, let us again claim for ourselves this Covenant which God has made with his people, and take the yoke of Christ upon us.
To take his yoke upon us means that we are content that he appoint us our place and work, and that he himself be our reward.
Christ has many services to be done; some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honour, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests, others are contrary to both, In some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet the power to do all these things is given us in Christ, who strengthens us.
Therefore let us make this Covenant of God our own. Let us give ourselves anew to him, trusting in his promises and relying on his grace.

The people sit or kneel, and the Minister says:
Lord God, Holy Father, since you have called us through Christ to share in this gracious Covenant; we take upon ourselves with joy the yoke of obedience, and, for love of you, engage ourselves to seek and do your perfect will. We are no longer our own, but yours.

I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

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