December 31, 2023 - Wesley's Covenant Renewal

For the week of December 31 to January 6 – John Wesley’s Covenant Renewal

Morning prayer: God of glory, You have given us a new name and robed us in salvation. May we like Anna find our home in Your presence, and like Simeon recognize Jesus as the Christ, so that, in joy and thanksgiving at becoming Your children, we may join with all creation to sing Your praise. Amen. (Lectionary Prayers)

Hymn: #240 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

  1. Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new born King,
    peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!"
    Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies;
    with th' angelic host proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
    Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new born King!"
  2. Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ, the everlasting Lord;
    late in time behold Him come, offspring of a virgin's womb.
    Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail th' incarnate Deity,
    pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
    Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new born King!"
  3. Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
    Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings.
    Mild He lays His glory by, born that we no more may die,
    born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth.
    Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new born King!"

Psalm 148: 1-4, 11-13

148:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise Him in the heights!

148:2 Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His host!

148:3 Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you shining stars!

148:4 Praise Him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

148:11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!

148:12 Young men and women alike, old and young together!

148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.

Children’s Time Genesis 9:8-17

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for Me, I am establishing My covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish My covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember My covenant that is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Children’s Message

Later in our service this morning we are going to renew our covenant with God. We do this through what we refer to as the Wesleyan covenant renewal service. It’s Wesleyan because we are part of a big family of churches who organize themselves by the example of John and Charles Wesley. Our structure, meaning our leadership and membership and our theology, how we think and talk about God are based on the teachings of John Wesley and the hymnody of Charles Wesley.

A covenant is an agreement. In the Genesis reading today we find the covenant we are most familiar with, that between God, Noah, and all creation. The covenant that God would never destroy the earth again by flood.

This covenant came with a sign, the rainbow. God set a rainbow in the sky to remind God and to reassure us of this covenant. God has made many covenants with God’s people and we find them recorded in our scriptures. There is the covenant with Abraham, Moses, and David. Jesus made a covenant with His followers and we remember it every time we come to the Communion Table.

Some covenants with God require our participation – God will do and we will do. Some of the covenants only God can uphold – God is the only one responsible for it. What we can be sure of is this, God will always give us what we need to do our part and God will always do God’s part. This is called grace and we live in God’s abundant grace.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us, not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlight: Wesley’s Covenant service contains moments of personal introspection.  As you think about your personal covenant with our Lord, listen to His calling to give to the ministries that will bring people to Him.  He will direct you to give of your financial means, your time, your skills, and how you will witness to others about the Lord; perhaps through Lightstreet United Methodist Church and perhaps in other ways.   

Offering prayer: God of hope and joy, the gifts we offer to You pale when our minds try to grasp all we have been given in this season: wholeness in our woundedness, hope in our despair, peace in our turmoil, forgiveness in our rebellion. Like Simeon, we have listened with our ears that we might not miss You, and our eyes have seen Your salvation! You gave us light in our darkness and hope in our discouragement. Help us embrace Your extravagant generosity as we give ourselves to others. In our Savior’s holy name, we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn of preparation #383 verses 1-4 This Is the Day of New Beginnings

  1. This is a day of new beginnings, time to remember and move on,
    time to believe what love is bringing, laying to rest the pain that’s gone.
  2. For by the life and death of Jesus, God’s mighty Spirit, now as then,
    can make for us a world of difference, as faith and hope are born again.
  3. Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring, step from the past and leave behind
    our disappointment, guilt, and grieving, as faith and hope are born again.
  4. Christ is alive, and goes before us to show and share what love can do.
    This is a day of new beginnings; our God is making all things new.

Message Scripture:  Luke 2:22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought Him (Jesus) up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now You are dismissing Your servant in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.” And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to His mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the Child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon Him.

Message:                       Pastor Becky

Over the course of Advent and now into Christmastide, we have heard God’s plan for redemption through many voices. We have heard the proclamations from the angels to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph. We have overheard the conversations between Mary and Elizabeth. We rejoiced with the shepherds as they received the joyful news of the birth of Jesus and their retelling to all who would listen. All the while, the plan for God’s redemption was lifted up in the Temple and the synagogues. It was taught from mothers’ laps in story and song – all pointing to the coming Messiah for the salvation of creation.

Today we hear it from Simeon and Anna. They are where they knew to be in order to bear witness, the Temple. Simeon calls out that his eyes have seen God’s salvation and Anna praises God and then tells all who were looking. They are the first “religious” people to see God’s salvation in Jesus. They recognize Him, for they are the ones who knew the laws and the prophecies. They lived their lives expectant to see the Messiah come.

Simeon had a promise he was holding on to. The Holy Spirit told Simeon about Jesus. Simeon was confident in this promise that upon seeing Jesus, Simeon knew he could die in that same confidence because God kept God’s promise.

A promise is an assurance that God will do something. In Simeon’s case, Simeon would live to see Jesus. Christmas is a promise that God will redeem the world and God has in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In that morning Simeon saw it all come to fruition. God keeps God’s promise. Simeon waited and God provided.

God has given us many promises and all God’s promises assure us of God’s love for creation, creation in community and creation personally; God loves you, God loves me. In the reading of today’s gospel lesson, Simeon teaches us to write these promises deeply on our hearts. The promise given to Simeon was written so deeply in his brain and in his heart it changed his life. Living fully into the promise, he changed where he would be found, who he would embrace and gave him a fuller lens to see the coming Messiah. He shed all of his preconceived notions of who Messiah would be and opened his eyes to who the Messiah could be. The promise changed Simeon and God’s promises will change us too. Through God’s promises the world changes.

We stand at the threshold of a new year. I challenge you to seek out one of God’s promises and claim it for yourself and make it your own. Pray it, recite it – let it be the first thing you say in the morning and your retiring thought in the evening when you go to bed. Allow it to possess you and you possess the promise, you become interlocked with God and all God has offered you – so that you are filled and focused on God’s divine will for us and for creation. Amen.

*Now, it would be unkind for me to just throw you into the wilderness of scripture without offering you some promises for you to refer to. Please find below some of my favorites and as always, Pastor Ron and I are available to you. We are praying for you and encouraging you on your continued walk with God. Pbecky

  • Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10
  • The LORD will fight for you, and you only have to keep still. Exodus 14:14
  • Our steps are made firm by the LORD, when He delights in our way; though we stumble, we will not fall headlong, for the LORD holds us by the hand. Psalms 37:23-24
  • Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
  • So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11: 24
  • We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
  • And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Wesley Covenant Service

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Christian life is redeemed from sin and consecrated to God. Through baptism, we have entered this life and have been admitted into the new covenant of which Jesus Christ is the Mediator. He sealed it with His own blood, that it might last for ever. On the one side, God promises to give us new life in Christ, the Source and Perfecter of our faith. On the other side, we are pledged to live no more for ourselves but only for Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us.

From time to time we renew our covenant with God, especially when we reaffirm the Baptismal Covenant and gather at the Lord's table.

Today, however, we meet, as the generations before us have met, to renew the covenant that binds us to God. Let us make this covenant of God our own.



Commit yourselves to Christ as His servants. Give yourselves to Him, that you may belong to Him. Christ has many services to be done. Some are more easy and honorable, others are more difficult and disgraceful. Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves. But then there are other works where we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. It is necessary, therefore, that we consider what it means to be a servant of Christ.

Let us, therefore, go to Christ, and pray:

Let me be Your servant, under Your command. I will no longer be my own. I will give up myself to Your will in all things.

Be satisfied that Christ shall give you your place and work.

Lord, make me what You will. I put myself fully into Your hands:
put me to doing, put me to suffering,
let me be employed for You, or laid aside for You,
let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and with a willing heart give it all to Your pleasure and disposal.

Christ will be the Savior of none but His servants. He is the source of all salvation to those who obey. Christ will have no servants except by consent; Christ will not accept anything except full consent to all that He requires. Christ will be all in all, or He will be nothing.

Confirm this by a holy covenant.

To make this covenant a reality in your life, listen to these admonitions:

First, set apart some time, more than once, to be spent alone before the Lord; in seeking earnestly God's special assistance and gracious acceptance of you;
in carefully thinking through all the conditions of the covenant;
in searching your hearts whether you have already freely given your life to Christ.
Consider what your sins are.
Consider the laws of Christ, how holy, strict, and spiritual they are, and whether you, after having carefully considered them, are willing to choose them all. Be sure you are clear in these matters, see that you do not lie to God.

Second, be serious and in a spirit of holy awe and reverence.

Third, claim God's covenant, rely upon God's promise of giving grace and strength, so you can keep your promise. Trust not your own strength and power.

Fourth, resolve to be faithful.
You have given to the Lord your hearts, you have opened your mouths to the Lord, and you have dedicated yourself to God. With God's power, never go back.

And last, be then prepared to renew your covenant with the Lord. Fall down on your knees, lift your hands toward heaven, open your hearts to the Lord, as we pray:


O righteous God, for the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, see me as I fall down before You. Forgive my unfaithfulness in not having done Your will, for You have promised mercy to me if I turn to You with my whole heart.

God requires that you shall put away all your idols.

I here from the bottom of my heart renounce them all, covenanting with You that no known sin shall be allowed in my life. Against Your will, I have turned my love toward the world. In Your power I will watch all temptations that will lead me away from You. For my own righteousness is riddled with sin, unable to stand before You.

Through Christ, God has offered to be your God again if you would let Him.

Before all heaven and earth, I here acknowledge You as my Lord and God. I take You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for my portion, and vow to give up myself, body and soul, as Your servant, to serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life.

God has given the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way and means of coming to God.

Jesus, I do here on bended knees accept Christ as the only new and living Way, and sincerely join myself in a covenant with Him. O blessed Jesus, I come to You, hungry, sinful, miserable, blind, and naked, unworthy even to wash the feet of Your servants. I do here, with all my power, accept You as my Lord and Head. I renounce my own worthiness, and vow that You are the Lord, my righteousness.
I renounce my own wisdom, and take You for my only guide.
I renounce my own will, and take Your will as my law.

Christ has told you that you must suffer with Him.

I do here covenant with You, O Christ, to take my lot with You as it may fall. Through Your grace I promise that neither life nor death shall part me from You.

God has given holy laws as the rule of your life.

I do here willingly put my neck under Your yoke, to carry Your burden. All Your laws are holy, just, and good. I therefore take them as the rule for my words, thoughts, and actions, promising that I will strive to order my whole life according to Your direction, and not allow myself to neglect anything I know to be my duty.

The almighty God searches and knows your heart.

O God, You know that I make this covenant with You today without guile or reservation. If any falsehood should be in it, guide me and help me to set it aright.

And now, glory be to You, O God the Father, whom I from this day forward shall look upon as my God and Father.

Glory be to You, O God the Son, who have loved me and washed me from my sins in Your own blood, and now is my Savior and Redeemer.

Glory be to You, O God the Holy Spirit, who by Your almighty power have turned my heart from sin to God.

O mighty God, the Lord Omnipotent, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You have now become my Covenant Friend. And I, through Your infinite grace, have become Your covenant servant. So be it. And let the covenant I have made on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen.

You are advised to make this covenant not only in your heart, but in word; not only in word, but in writing. Therefore, with all reverence, lay the service before the Lord as your act and deed. And when you have done this, sign it. Then keep it as a reminder of the holy agreement between God and you that you may remember it during doubts and temptations.

Closing Hymn: #251 Go, Tell It on the Mountain

Refrain:  Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere,

Go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.

  1. While shepherds kept their watching o’er silent flocks by night,

Behold throughout the heavens there shone a holy light. (Refrain)

  1. The shepherds feared and trembled, when lo! above the earth,

Rang out the angel chorus that hailed the Savior’s birth. (Refrain)

  1. Down in a lowly manger the humble Christ was born,

And God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn. (Refrain)

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.