January 1, 2023 - Wesley Covenant Service

Wesley Covenant renewal 2023

HYMN -224 Good Christian friends rejoice

  1. Good Christian friends, rejoice with heart and soul and voice;

Give ye heed to what we say:  News, news! Jesus Christ is born today!

Ox and ass before Him bow, and He is in the manger now.

Christ is born today, Christ is born today!

  1. Good Christian friends, rejoice with heart and soul and voice;

Now ye hear of endless bliss:  News, news! Jesus Christ was born for this!

He hath opened heaven’s door, and ye are blest forevermore.

Christ was born for this, Christ was born for this!

  1. Good Christian friends, rejoice with heart and soul and voice;

Now ye need not fear the grave: News, news! Jesus Christ was born to save!

Calls you one and calls you all to gain His everlasting hall.

Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save!

OPENING PRAYER  O God, Searcher of all our hearts, You have formed us as a people and claimed us for Your own. As we come to acknowledge Your sovereignty and grace, and to enter anew into covenant with You, reveal any reluctance or falsehood within us. Let Your Spirit impress Your truth on our inmost being, and receive us in mercy, for the sake of our Mediator, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (DAVID TRIPP, ENGLAND, 20TH CENT.)

Hymn #242 Love Came Down at Christmas

  1. Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, Love divine;
    Love was born at Christmas; star and angels gave the sign.
  2. Worship we the Godhead, Love incarnate, Love divine;
    worship we our Jesus, but wherewith for sacred sign?
  3. Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine;
    love to God and all men, love for plea and gift and sign.

Children’s message- Jeremiah 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that 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 on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Do you know what a covenant is? It is a very special promise between two entities. We enter into covenants in our everyday life and in our religious life with God. Some examples of covenants we are the most familiar with are marriage, adoption, baptism, and confirmation. They are usually witnessed by at least two other people and they signify this special promise. When we come to the communion table we are also participating in a covenant, Jesus’ promise of forgiveness and everlasting life – while Jesus’s work is already done, we are reminded of who we are to Jesus and who Jesus is to us.

In today’s scripture from the prophet Jeremiah, he is telling of God’s ultimate covenant with God’s people, first with Israel and then to the entire world. God will restore the relationship between us and God. It will be like a starting over point, not for God but for us. See even when people disobey God, God doesn’t desert them. But what God is telling them and us is we can rely on God, because God is going to show us how to truly know God. For us, as Christians, we see this covenant enacted in the sending of Jesus. God reveals Godself in Jesus. We can know God by knowing Jesus. We don’t have to guess as to how to love, forgive, or care about the people in our lives, Jesus shows us. We don’t have to guess as to how God feels about us, because God sent Jesus to us so we could see God’s love in action. This covenant was proclaimed to bring us peace and a vision of what the Kingdom of God is like, so we can live in it today.


Let us give thanks for all of God's mercies.

O God, our Covenant Friend, You have been gracious to us through all the years of our lives. We thank You for Your loving care, which has filled our days and brought us to this time and place.

We praise Your holy name, O God.

You have given us life and reason, and set us in a world filled with Your glory. You have comforted us with family and friends, and ministered to us through the hands of our sisters and brothers.

We praise Your holy name, O God.

You have filled our hearts with a hunger after You, and have given us Your peace. You have redeemed us, and called us to a high calling in Christ Jesus. You have given us a place in the fellowship of Your Spirit and the witness of Your Church.

We praise Your holy name, O God.

You have been our light in darkness and a rock of strength in adversity and temptation. You have been the very Spirit of joy in our joys and the all–sufficient reward in all our labors.

We praise Your holy name, O God.

You remembered us when we forgot You. You followed us even when we tried to flee from You. You met us with forgiveness when we returned to You. For all Your patience and overflowing grace:

We praise Your holy name, O God.

And now, as Jesus has taught us, let us pray together by praying…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 spotlightMissions funds are given each year to support the ministries of AGAPE, a partner with organizations and volunteers to transform communities in Columbia and Montour Counties.  They give food, clothing and furniture; plus spiritual and financial counseling and assistance, and is a major component in flood relief efforts.   

Offering prayer Holy and Everlasting God from long ago, we live in the promise of being Your people. You continually come to us offering forgiveness, mercy and grace, new mercies every morning. This leads us to respond in gratitude for all You have done and will continue to do. Accept these gifts, offerings, and tithes, bless them for the building and sustaining of Your Kingdom here. In Jesus Christ, Amen.

Hymn of preparation- #383 This is a day of new beginnings (vs 1-4)

  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.

  1. 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.

  1. Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring, step from the past and leave behind

Our disappointment, guilt and grieving, seeking new paths, and sure to find.

  1. 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.

SCRIPTURE LESSON - Matthew 25:31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will put the sheep at His right hand and the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at His right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you gave Me clothing, I was sick and you took care of Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? And when was it that we saw You a stranger and welcomed You, or naked and gave You clothing? And when was it that we saw You sick or in prison and visited You?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of My family, you did it to Me.’ Then He will say to those at His left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from Me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not give Me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Message- The Work of the Covenant

Blessings to you on this first day of the New Year. This morning we look to set out a new and in the coming Sundays you will hear the word renewal a lot. I tend to spend January reflecting and processing on what has happened in the past year, so I can be ready for the new – taking inventory of things so to say. I prefer to start out on the right foot. Now in this reflecting, decisions need to be made, assessments taken, and plans made and then executed. It is a process of deciding what has worked and what hasn’t, what has worked but I don’t feel called to do again – the basics of what gets added and what gets subtracted in my life for the coming year. The goal is to find balance or at least the space I can pretend to be balanced, for my well being and those around me, so I can live out what I am ordained to do.

Which is why Jesus’s account of the final judgment is a good place for us as the Church of Jesus Christ to start in our reflecting on the past year of ministry and mission. It is good to see where we have made progress and where we may come up lacking. I can’t claim any of these to be complete successes because they are missions that will continue because they haven’t been eradicated or even their root causes exposed in any kind of productive way. But they are Jesus’s measuring stick so to speak.

How have we:

  1. Fed the hungry? I think we can point to the food pantry, the blessing box out front, the gift cards given for Thanksgiving and Easter meals and our Together Time meals. But you also feed your neighbors and each other. You may have additions to this list because I know you participate in missions outside the “official work of Lightstreet UMC”. As we move into the New Year, we will resume offering 4 meals out of Wesley UMC in downtown. Our first Saturday meal is January 21.
  2. Taken care of thirst? This one, we may come up slim on. I know there are those of you who drop water and Gatorade off to the Fire Company and in our past we supported well drilling through our Conference giving, but this may be one for us to really study and respond accordingly.
  3. Welcomed the stranger? Through the coat drive, we got to meet 2 Ukrainian refugees, but I am not certain we are really seeking out the stranger in meaningful ways for the building of the Kingdom. Again, with the care of thirst, we need to study and pray what this is to mean for us here.
  4. Clothed the naked? Each year, you support an incredible coat and clothing give away. I also have full confidence in the fact that if a need would be brought to you, you would respond.
  5. Cared for the sick? We visit the sick in their homes and in facilities. I know they are getting phone calls and you do a marvelous job of sending cards of concern and many of you have stepped in to provide rides to doctor’s appointments. Yet… this is for our folks, how are we really caring for the sick in our community? Again, we can add this with thirst and the stranger.
  6. Visited those in prison? We don’t have an active prison ministry sponsored by the church, but what I will point to are the AA and Al-Anon meetings we host. Prisons are places you can’t get out of by yourself and addiction is certainly a prison.

As you read through these, what would you add? There are some we seem to have a handle on and others, maybe not so much. How do we respond meaningfully? I’m not looking to just keep you busy while we wait for Jesus’s return and I don’t think that is what Jesus intended. These 6 areas of mission are meant to place us in relationship with our community and with real people living real lives. With these commands of Jesus, our hearts should already be primed to respond and for us to be righteously angry when we see these needs go unmet or those experiencing these needs not being met being abused and treated as less than human. These commands give us eyes to see God’s heart and to be who God wants us to be for the world: a witness to God’s love and care for the entire world and by starting here with this list, we will see Jesus.

Introduction to the covenant renewal

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)


Three fold amen