This year will be different

By Bishop Jonathan Holston

Put me to the test, says The Lord of hosts; see if I will not open up the window of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. ”Malachi 3:10

It's that time of year again. That special time when we make resolutions to consider in the new year.

So let s recite some of them together: We re going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, save for the future and spend more time with family. Many of these resolutions are specific promises that revolve around the things that pull our strings; namely, money, health and family. Because we make our own decisions, do our own thing and nobody tells us what we will do or not do, we would like to think that we are completely free of all the stuff that pulls our strings. In fact, we make these resolutions because we want a clean slate to bring change to bear on our own circumstances and improve ourselves as well as our quality of life.

Friends, it s that time of year where the phrase this year will be different will be said more than we can count.

For me, the new year is an appropriate time to take an inventory of our lives and think about how we want to live and act in a more excellent way. As we celebrate, we have opportunities to reaffirm our faith. Many of us will take time to share in a Wesley Covenant Renewal Service. Our participation in such a service reaffirms our willingness and intention to again say we are ready to live in a covenant relationship of faith in the Body of Christ.

This is powerful good news to share with one another at the beginning of the year.

It was in 1755 that John Wesley came to believe that gathering a congregation together to make or renew their covenant with God was in his words a means of increasing serious religion. ... To serve God with all our heart and with all our soul.

The heart of the service requires us to commit ourselves anew to God as we share in the following Prayer of Invitation: 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.

In order for this year to be different, we pray this prayer of covenant:

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things

To thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Thou art mine, and I am thine, So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Yes, it is that time of year again. That special time when resolutions are made. Yet this year can be different if we move into a deeper relationship with Christ and discover a more excellent way.

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