When we said the Covenant Prayer at the beginning of the year, who could have believed the situation we find ourselves in now. We offer ourselves to God asking that God will use us as and how he chooses and, I suspect, always hope that we’ll get the better side of the equation. We always know though that anything is possible.
As a minister, I usually have to say the Covenant Prayer more than once each year and 2020 didn’t get off to the best start. There were a number of family issues which had to be dealt with and Janice, my wife, had her car written off in an accident that wasn’t her fault. Fortunately, there were no injuries. By the last time I said the prayer, I was echoing Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, “Could we start again please?”
Many of us will have been asking ourselves that question in recent weeks. For some of us they have been a time where work has been busier, more stressful, and dangerous than we could have been imagined. For others, it’s been a time of getting to grips with new technology and trying to find ways of communicating in different ways. Some people are struggling with loneliness and boredom as familiar habits and, in some cases TV programmes, aren’t able to be there anymore.
I had to do some training via Zoom last week that began with an icebreaker. You can’t escape them in the privacy of your own home! We had to decide which season of the year we felt ourselves in and why. I decided Autumn as it felt like leaves were coming off the trees and difficult times lay ahead. I don’t know whether I was having a bad day, but I’ve re-evaluated the situation and now I’ve decided it’s Spring. We’ve learnt very quickly how to do things in new ways as a church and it would be tragic if we just let go of them when we eventually get to the new normal, whatever that might mean. Perhaps there will be more new things to learn as we shape the church for that new normal.
As well as being an opportunity to recommit ourselves to God, the Covenant Service also gives us an opportunity to recognise God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. In Genesis, God makes a series of covenants with the patriarchs. Even though, over the years, the people break those covenants, God remains faithful. We believe that he makes a new covenant with us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, we can know God’s presence in our lives whatever situation we find ourselves in and whatever sort of day we are having. God understands what we are going through and seeks to support us.
As we, hopefully, begin to come out of this situation, let us commit ourselves again to serving God how and where God chooses. Let’s look for new opportunities to reach out with his love and not just stick to the old ways because they are comfortable. And let us know, in the words of John Wesley :
“The best of all is, God is with us.”John Wesley