A mixture of emotions filled 2021 as the new life of a grandchild brought joy , while the worries of being a member of the Sandwich Generation brought its own challenges; an election to a new role in the community and plenty of missed opportunities to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. Like any New Year, I look back with both pleasure and regret. This year is no different. But God is constant in his love, his promptings, his compassion and his promise of new life and forgiveness.
Nationally and internationally it has been a year of disputes, of fear, of injustice and selfishness. The situation in Afghanistan, The Yemen; the fragmentation of Europe; the growing divide between rich and poor; the climate emergency, the pandemic. It seems like humans never learn to be good neighbours and to love unconditionally.
But in Jesus, we have the example to follow, for he challenged the social norms of the day, called out the double standards and gave his life that we might know life in all its goodness.
In Jesus we have a new covenant with God, whereby we commit to him and in a way become one in mind and spirit. As in a marriage where two become one in sickness, in health, in our covenant with God, death will not part us. The prophet Jeremiah says in chapter 31,
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to[d] them,[e]”
declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
The Covenant Prayer written by John Wesley in 1755 is a challenge to read and a challenge to keep, but by God’s grace, it brings peace of mind, joy in living, love of neighbour and the hope that his kingdom is being built on Earth.
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. ***