Monday, 5 January 2009

As much use as a wind-up Santa in January

clockwork santa

whose mechanism has broken. No, I'm not thinking about George Bush or the Israeli understanding of peacemaking,  though it could easily be either of these. What I have in mind is the Methodist Covenant Service which usually happens in the first couple of weeks of January in churches up and down the Connexion. As the service says :"In this covenant God promises us new life in Christ. For our part we promise to live no longer for ourselves but for God".

I wish. Like all things in life the reality is rather different and, in fact, little different from the stories of promises made and broken which litter the Bible from end to end. The intention is laudable, the delivery often laughable, and I am talking about myself.....

As much use as a wind-up Santa in January whose mechanism has broken. Which is why the service is realistic and tells it how it honestly is:

For the sin that has made us slow to learn from Christ, reluctant to follow him, and afraid to bear the cross: Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.

For the sin that has caused the poverty of our worship, the formality and selfishness of our prayers, our neglect of fellowship and the means of grace, and our hesitating witness for Christ: Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.

For the sin that has led us to misuse your gifts, evade our responsibilities,and fail to be good stewards of your creation: Lord, have mercy, Lord, forgive.

For the sin that has made us unwilling to overcome evil with good, tolerant of injustice, quick to condemn, and selfish in sharing your love with others: Lord, have mercy,Lord, forgive.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your constant love; in the fullness of your mercy blot out my offences. Wash away all my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Give me the joy of your help again and strengthen me with a willing spirit

In other words, please fix my faith-mechanism and wind it up again that I might yet point others to the gifts you bring all year round. And put your living word into my action.  Please.

I am no longer my own but yours. Your will, not mine, be done in all things, wherever you may place me, in all that I do and in all that I may endure; when there is work for me and when there is none; when I am troubled and when I am at peace. Your will be done when I am valued and when I am disregarded; when I find fulfilment and when it is lacking; when I have all things, and when I have nothing. I willingly offer all I have and am to serve you, as and where you choose


  1. Thank you for this reminder, which comes before we celebrate our Covenant Service this year, because we had our Superintendent Minister last Sunday to launch our centenary year. I, for one, will have this in mind on the 18th when we have our Covenant Service.

  2. Welcome Olive, and thank you for your comment; it is gratifying to know that you found my thoughts helpful. Enjoy the 18th!

  3. I find it useful to think of the Covenant as being in the language of desire. I know I won't live up to the counsel of perfection it represents - but I do at least desire to live up to it. And as Thomas Merton wrote, "But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you." It's if I get to the point where the covenant no longer represents my heartfelt desire that I'll really get worried! I agree that need to think about what we're saying rather than simply trot it out.