Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship - Over the last several months we have frequently talked about our role as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God. We have looked at ways to be those conduits by which God's Kingdom breaks forth into our reality, in the here and now. However, in order for us to be as effective as possible, we all need to be on the same page. Each and everyone of us needs to know our God, we need to know ourselves, and we need to know what it means to live life together.

Our current preaching series entitled, 3 Simple Questions seeks to answer those questions so we can ensure we are all moving towards the same goal, sharing the same love of God, and truly living our life of faith together. This week we are exploring question 2: Who Am I? Bring a friend and come experience God as we turn all that we are over to the One that loved us first!


2. Winterfest! - It is coming soon! Our children count down by sleeps until big events....just nine more sleeps left! YAY!!!!

Saturday, February 6th, we will celebrate our annual Winterfest! We are definitely looking forward to experiencing our first CUMC Winterfest as your pastors and we are so excited!

This is a wonderful opportunity for us to love on the community of Fruitland Park as we provide FREE food, games, music, entertainment and great hospitality.

Signups are happening after every worship service this weekend. There are lots of ways that you can participate and help make this outreach event a tremendous blessing! Please stop by the tables and consider how and where you might serve. We always have room for one more!


3. New Member Class - Our next New Member Class is coming up next month as well. It will be Monday, February 8th and Tuesday, February 9th. Monday night will include dinner and both sessions will go from 6pm to approximately 8:30pm. If you have been attending CUMC for a while and want to take the step of commitment in joining the church, we welcome and invite you to attend. Please contact the church office at 787-1829 or email the office by clicking here to RSVP for this class. We hope to see you there!





4. Property Update - On Thursday, January 7th we had a Church Charge Conference to discuss and vote on acquiring a nearby piece of property. I want to share with you the following letter from our Church Council Chairperson, Jim Latham, concerning the outcome of that gathering.

On January 7, 2016 a church conference was held to obtain permission for Community United Methodist Church to purchase the property located at 301 Rose Avenue. The conference participants gave unanimous approval to purchase the property at a cost not to exceed $52,000 plus any legal fees and related closing costs. 
The closing date for this purchase is January 29, 2016. 
A task force has been appointed to identify what actions must be taken to prepare the property for use by our church. Members of the task force are David Withers; Chairman, Rev. Daryl Allen, Rev. Debbie Allen, Bernie Groome, John Hoevenair, and Jim Thatcher. 
They will report their findings and recommendations to the Church Council at the Council’s March meeting. This property will be used to support our current and future ministry needs. 
Your generous financial support of the building fund makes possible the acquisition of property and the construction of new facilities. Thank you for your continuing support of the ministries of our church. 

What a wonderful thing it is for us to be in a position to continue our growth as we work to help God's Kingdom break forth into this reality! Let us echo Jim's sentiment and say thank you for your continuing support of the ministries of our church.


5. Second Floor Update  - Lots of progress has been made in recent weeks concerning our second floor addition on the Education Building. Most of the furniture is arriving today in fact! We appreciate your patience as we have had to move classes around during this construction period. We are anticipating everything being completed upstairs and moving into the new spaces by the end of February. Stay tuned for further updates on the dedication of that space and when we will begin holding classes in the new space!





Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Midweek Moment

As I shared in worship on Sunday, it is good to be back among all of you! I was in town all last week but instead of being at the church I was at the Life Enrichment Center every day. I am one of the newest members of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry; the group responsible for interviewing pastors for licensing, commissioning and ordination for pastoral ministry in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. By the time someone comes to the Board of Ordained Ministry for ordination they have invested a lot of time, energy and effort in discerning and following the call that God has placed upon their life. Part of the application process for the Board of Ordained Ministry is a rather large packet of information: a videotaped sermon, answers to questions about your personal growth and development, your understanding of leadership and your understanding of theology. Pastors work on this packet for 9 months before submitting it in October. It’s read during November and if all the materials are up to the level we expect from someone applying for ordination then you are invited for an interview in January.


I’m on the theology team. In 40 pages we ask folks to answer 11 questions summing up everything they know and have learned and experienced about God. The first few questions go something like this: Describe your understanding of Jesus...God...Holy Spirit...the church...etc. Not hard stuff at all right? And then in the interviews we asked those candidates for ministry to articulate in person without their notes the answers to those questions and others like how their understanding of God affects their interactions with people of other faiths or inform their understanding of suffering and evil in the world. 

In some ways it was a very surreal experience to serve on that board. I appeared before the board 4 times at different stages of my process towards ordination between the years of 2001 and 2008. I have very vivid memories of my appearances before the board, including some of the questions asked and who around the table asked them. Daryl went through the same process for ordination appearing before the board in 2009 and in 2012. The meeting days were certainly long and emotions were running high for many folks, but it was also a very real privilege to be there. Over and over again, I was reminded of the words from a little devotional book I read that helped me years ago to come to grips with my calling: 

Moses wasn't qualified (as I run over my favorite characters in both the Old and New Testaments, I can't find one who was in any worldly way qualified to do the job which was nevertheless accomplished;).....In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the unqualified to do his work, to bear his glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the work ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualifications, then there's no danger that we will confused God's work with our own, or God's glory with our own. - Madeleine L'Engle, "Appointed to Serve" from her book Glimpses of Grace

Not every person is called to pastoral ministry within the church, but in a very real sense every single believer is called to ministry and we find different ways to express that in the settings where we are and with the talents and abilities and gifts we have at our disposal. So many times I think we are tempted to respond to God's calling in our lives like Moses with a list of reasons or excuses why God should pick someone else. But God shows up in mighty ways when we are willing to consider stepping out in faith to follow God's calling in our lives. He doesn't wait until we are qualified to call us - he EQUIPS and QUALIFIES those that he has CALLED. 

If there's something you've been waiting to say "Yes" to God about, perhaps it is time to think about what might be holding you back? Consider that prayerfully in the days ahead. 

Blessings,



We Need Your Help!

Hi Friends!

We just received word today that our new furniture for the second floor of the Education Building has shipped and will arrive tomorrow, 01/28, between 12pm - 4pm. We know the notice is short, but your help would be huge.

http://www.altsantiri.gr/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/69d3803c37e5b4b76db5f3a0d0a833fa.pngWe need to make a human chain to carry the chairs up the stairs and any help you could provide would be appreciated. You can call the church office in the morning and we are hoping to have a more narrow window once the delivery truck gets on the road from Ocala.

Thanks in advance for your consideration!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship - Over the last several months we have frequently talked about our role as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God. We have looked at ways to be those conduits by which God's Kingdom breaks forth into our reality, in the here and now. However, in order for us to be as effective as possible, we all need to be on the same page. Each and everyone of us needs to know our God, we need to know ourselves, and we need to know what it means to live life together.

This Sunday we will begin a new preaching series entitled, 3 Simple Questions. Over the next three weeks we will seek to answer those questions so we can ensure we are all moving towards the same goal, sharing the same love of God, and truly living our life of faith together. Bring a friend and come experience God as we turn all that we are over to the One that loved us first!





2. Winterfest! - It is coming soon! Just a little over two weeks away! Can you hardly stand it?!? YAY!!!

Saturday, February 6th, we will celebrate our annual Winterfest! We are definitely looking forward to experiencing our first CUMC Winterfest as your pastors and we are so excited!

This is a wonderful opportunity for us to love on the community of Fruitland Park as we provide FREE food, games, music, entertainment and great hospitality.

Signups are happening after every worship service this weekend. There are lots of ways that you can participate and help make this outreach event a tremendous blessing! Please stop by the tables and consider how and where you might serve. We always have room for one more!





3. New Member Class - Our next New Member Class is coming up next month as well. It will be Monday, February 8th and Tuesday, February 9th. Monday night will include dinner and both sessions will go from 6pm to approximately 8:30pm. If you have been attending CUMC for a while and want to take the step of commitment in joining the church, we welcome and invite you to attend. Please contact the church office at 787-1829 or email the office by clicking here to RSVP for this class. We hope to see you there!





4. Property Update - On Thursday, January 7th we had a Church Charge Conference to discuss and vote on acquiring a nearby piece of property. I want to share with you the following letter from our Church Council Chairperson, Jim Latham, concerning the outcome of that gathering.

On January 7, 2016 a church conference was held to obtain permission for Community United Methodist Church to purchase the property located at 301 Rose Avenue. The conference participants gave unanimous approval to purchase the property at a cost not to exceed $52,000 plus any legal fees and related closing costs.
The closing date for this purchase is January 29, 2016.
A task force has been appointed to identify what actions must be taken to prepare the property for use by our church. Members of the task force are David Withers; Chairman, Rev. Daryl Allen, Rev. Debbie Allen, Bernie Groome, John Hoevenair, and Jim Thatcher.
They will report their findings and recommendations to the Church Council at the Council’s March meeting. This property will be used to support our current and future ministry needs.
Your generous financial support of the building fund makes possible the acquisition of property and the construction of new facilities. Thank you for your continuing support of the ministries of our church. 

What a wonderful thing it is for us to be in a position to continue our growth as we work to help God's Kingdom break forth into this reality! Let us echo Jim's sentiment and say thank you for your continuing support of the ministries of our church.





5. Sunday School Opportunity - If you or someone you know is between 7th - 12th grade, and is looking for a Sunday School class, we have just the opportunity for you! Melinda Milhorn is offering a class centered on the curriculum, The Gospel Project. They will meet on Sundays at 11am in Room 106. We would love for you to come and be a part of this time as you grow in your faith together!






Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Midweek Moment

This past weekend Debbie and I spent time with the boys at one of our favorite places in the world, the Warren W. Willis United Methodist Camp in Leesburg. We were there for one of our family's favorite rituals; The Clergy Kids and Family Retreat.

Camp is a sacred place for me. My first experience at the Warren Willis Youth Camp was in elementary school as a church camper. I started coming to camp for a week each summer every year after that and loved it! Pastor Debbie has equally special memories attached to the camp from her experiences growing up and later serving as a Summer Camp Counselor for a year. So when we heard in 2010 that there was a special weekend at camp for Clergy Kids we jumped at the chance to not only spend some time with our boys, but to also introduce our boys to our special place. Before we went to our first retreat in 2011, hanging out with other clergy kids and pastors was bit difficult to do in our minds.

But we very quickly realized that this is a special community of folks. The kids look forward ALL year long to coming together and hanging out with one other, because at Clergy Kids they build an attachment to a place (camp) that is always theirs no matter where their parents might move in the Conference. They also build relationships with friends that they will never lose no matter where their parents might move in the Conference. That's a significant investment we want to keep giving our boys; a network of support from people who know the unique challenges you face when your mom and/or your dad is the pastor of a church. One of the highlights every year is the candlelight ceremony that takes places as part of Saturday night worship. In the picture below are five clergy kids. The one on the far right, Emma Hartsfield, we celebrated last year as a senior in high school who was graduating from Clergy Kids. She spoke of her time and what it has meant to her and then lit the other four candles representing the torch being passed to the new senior high group - three boys and a girl who this year are freshmen in high school. This passing of the light is always a very moving part of our worship together.

And that chance to worship together is one of the most special gifts that Clergy Kids gives us as a family. While Parker and Wesley are in the same sanctuary as we are during worship each Sunday, neither Debbie nor I get to sit with them to help them process what's happening. Meanwhile, Davis is in the nursery, completely separated from the rest of us. At Clergy Kids we are in the same space together, worshiping together, singing together, and praying together. This past weekend we had several different worship times where we were all able to be together and worship as a family.

This was our sixth Clergy Kids retreat. We're invested enough in Clergy Kids that we are on the design team for the weekend: helping plan themes for the guest speakers and the kids' times and heavily promoting it to all the Clergy families that we know.

Thank you for allowing us the time away to participate in Clergy Kids and make this very important and lasting investment in the lives of our children.

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Worship - This Sunday we will be honored to have one of our very own, Rev. Melissa Cooper come and share in worship with us. She will be preaching from Colossians as she shares with us the importance of being vulnerable, especially in how that pertains to living out our life of faith in community.

We will be with you in spirit, as we share in worship with our boys at the Annual Clergy Kids Retreat. We have been going to this event for several years. It gives our boys a chance to develop relationships with other clergy kids that know the uniqueness of living this life.

Bring a friend and come experience God together!






2. Winterfest! - It is coming soon! We are definitely looking forward to experiencing our first CUMC Winterfest as your pastors next month! The date for Winterfest is Saturday, February 6th.

This is a wonderful opportunity for us to love on the community of Fruitland Park as we provide FREE food, games, music, entertainment and great hospitality.

Signups are happening after every worship service this weekend. There are lots of ways that you can participate and help make this outreach event a tremendous blessing! Please stop by the tables and consider how and where you might serve.







3. New Member Class - Our next New Member Class is coming up next month as well. It will be Monday, February 8th and Tuesday, February 9th. Monday night will include dinner and both sessions will go from 6pm to approximately 8:30pm. If you have been attending CUMC for a while and want to take the step of commitment in joining the church, we welcome and invite you to attend. Please contact the church office at 787-1829 or email the office by clicking here to RSVP for this class. We hope to see you there!






4. Property Update - On Thursday, January 7th we had a Church Charge Conference to discuss and vote on acquiring a nearby piece of property. I want to share with you the following letter from our Church Council Chairperson, Jim Latham, concerning the outcome of that gathering.
On January 7, 2016 a church conference was held to obtain permission for Community United Methodist Church to purchase the property located at 301 Rose Avenue. The conference participants gave unanimous approval to purchase the property at a cost not to exceed $52,000 plus any legal fees and related closing costs.

The closing date for this purchase is January 29, 2016.

A task force has been appointed to identify what actions must be taken to prepare the property for use by our church. Members of the task force are David Withers; Chairman, Rev. Daryl Allen, Rev. Debbie Allen, Bernie Groome, John Hoevenair, and Jim Thatcher. They will report their findings and recommendations to the Church Council at the Council’s March meeting.

This property will be used to support our current and future ministry needs.

Your generous financial support of the building fund makes possible the acquisition of property and the construction of new facilities.

Thank you for your continuing support of the ministries of our church.
What a wonderful thing it is for us to be in a position to continue our growth as we work to help God's Kingdom break forth into this reality! Let us echo Jim's sentiment and say thank you for your continuing support of the ministries of our church.






5. Sunday School Opportunity - If you or someone you know is between 7th - 12th grade, and is looking for a Sunday School class, we have just the opportunity for you! Melinda Milhorn is offering a class centered on the curriculum, The Gospel Project. They will meet on Sundays at 11am in Room 106. We would love for you to come and be a part of this time as you grow in your faith together!






Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Midweek Moment

This past Sunday was something else! It has taken me several days to unpack it all, not just everything that happened, but the depth and significance of it all. As I have been putting all of the pieces together, it is becoming more and more apparent to me just how special worship was this past week. So special in fact, that I want everyone to know so we can thank God together.

It began on Monday. Monday is the day Pastor Debbie and I write our sermon. We stay home, so as to limit distractions, and we write. This past Monday I wrote my sermon, read it over, and had a feeling that something was missing. I tried to place my finger on it, but could not discern what was lacking. When that happens, my practice is to leave it alone for a day or two and just let it sit fallow. That gives me some time away and some space to let it breathe and usually when I come back with a fresh mind, I can see what I was previously missing. This time I came back late on Wednesday expecting to feel better about what I read but that feeling of omission was still prevalent. Being no closer to ascertaining what was causing this feeling, I put it away again. With the week quickly coming to an end, I tried again mid-morning on Thursday. As I came to the end of what I had prepared, it dawned on me. Finally! We needed to have a chance to remember our baptism during the service. After all, it was Baptism of the Lord Sunday and I was talking about Jesus’ baptism during the message.

My first thought was, at this late day in the week, there is no way to procure enough materials and coordinate 1,000 or so people moving around in worship. I tried to dismiss it as too hard, but we all know that there is nothing bigger than our God. So I got a hold of Brandon and shared with him what I was feeling and he volunteered to help make it happen. I got with Perk on Sunday morning and he helped finish up those last minute details that had to wait till then. The 8 o’clock service took place and it was great, but I had no idea that it was going to get better. We started our 9:30 service and I could tell something was different. It was not till I got up front to preach, and I could see the space that I realized we were FULL. Ran out of bulletins, bring out extra chairs, ask people to scooch in together type of full. Later I found out we set an attendance record of 326 people. It was the second most people we had ever had at that service! WOW!

With an excitement in my soul for all that had already taken place that morning, I then moved back over the Sanctuary for our final service of the morning. As we were singing our opening hymn, I noticed the ushers were seating people in the chapel. We had reached capacity. (More on that in a minute.)

You see God had asked me to do something in worship, create space for our baptisms to be remembered. I had fought the idea, but with the help of our amazing church and staff we made it happen. What I did not know at the time I was pushing back against this idea from God, was that God was going to deliver 1,150 people to us on that Sunday. And the reason that is important was because of the impact that time of remembrance had on them. Not only did I witness the emotion on people’s faces as they came and reached in the water to retrieved their stone, person after person came to me after each service and talked about their rock. They shared with me what they felt during those moments and told me how much that time meant to them. One person even told me it was the anniversary of their own baptism and they had been reflecting on it before they arrived at church. They described that time with God, reaching into the water and collecting their stone, as the icing on the cake. God did something amazing that day, and we all got to be a part of it!

Now back to the overflow seating at our 11 o’clock service. There were two families that were seated in there together. They did not know each other before hand and after worship the two mothers began talking. One asked the other about their young son. She had noticed he did not talk much. The mother of the child expressed there was some difficulty with his speech. The one that asked the question revealed at that point that she was a speech therapist. Can you believe it!?! Out of all the families that were there Sunday, God orchestrated it for those two to sit together so that young family would experience hope and find the person they needed to help them. What an awesome God!

As I continue to think and reflect on Sunday, I find more and more of God at work. My friends, God will come to us and ask us to do things for the Kingdom. I want to encourage you to find a way to say “yes”. For when we say “yes”, days like Sunday happen. For when we say “yes”, the Holy Spirit will show up and show us that vastness that is our God. For when we say “yes”, we are opening the door for God to come and change this world and bring us all closer to the one that loved us first! Thanks for being a part of Sunday and I look forward to many, many more with you all!

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. Charge Conference Tonight  - There will be a church charge conference in the sanctuary at 6pm this evening to discuss the purchase of a piece of property at 301 Rose Ave (corner of Rose and Catawba) which the Administrative Council are proposing to use as satellite parking for the church. All church members have voice and vote. 



2. Sunday Worship - This Sunday we will continue our series on New Beginnings as we embark on the journey of a new year. 

We will be celebrating Baptism of the Lord Sunday in worship and focusing upon Jesus' baptism by John in Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 as we reflect upon the question: "Do You Remember?"

Bring a friend and we hope to see you there!



3. Winterfest Coming Soon! - We are definitely looking forward to experiencing our first CUMC Winterfest as your pastors next month! The date for Winterfest is Saturday, February 6th. 

This is a wonderful opportunity for us to love on the community of Fruitland Park as we provide FREE food, games, music, entertainment and great hospitality. 

Signups are happening after every worship service this weekend. There are lots of ways that you can participate and help make this outreach event a tremendous blessing! Please stop by the tables and consider how and where you might serve. 



4. New Member Class - There will be a New Member Class held in February - Monday, February 8th and Tuesday February 9th. Monday night will include dinner and both sessions will go from 6pm to approximately 8:30pm. If you have been attending CUMC for a while and want to take the step of commitment in joining the church, you are welcome to attend. Please contact the church office at 787-1829 or email the office by clicking here to RSVP for this class.






Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Midweek Moment

As we began the New Year in worship on Sunday, I talked about making New Year's Resolutions and encouraged everyone to think about one thing that they would be willing to work on in 2016 in terms of their spiritual life, our individual relationships to God. We also talked about how our relationship to God is a covenant relationship, not a business contract, with terms on both sides and laid over a foundation of love and trust and commitment. In Biblical times, covenants that people made with God were regularly read and renewed, such as in Joshua 24:14-15 when Joshua asks the people of Israel to renew their covenant to God: "Choose you this day whom you will serve....but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."


And so we participated in a Wesleyan Covenant Renewal Service before we celebrated the sacrament of communion. John Wesley began leading the people called Methodist in this service in 1755 on New Year's Eve. The centerpiece of the covenant is often called Wesley's Covenant Prayer which invites us towards a humble posture before God, following Jesus' model of servant leadership and offering ourselves as servants for Christ's kingdom: 



Let me be your servant. Let me follow your commands. 
I will no longer follow my own desires. I give myself completely to your will. 
I am not my own. I am yours alone. 
Make me into what you will. Rank me with those you will. 
Put me to use for you. Put me to suffering for you. 
Let me be employed for you. Let me be laid aside for you.
Let me be lifted high for you. Let me be brought low for you. 
Let me be full or let me be empty. Let me have all things or let me have nothing. 
With a willing heart, I freely give everything to Your pleasure and disposal.
 You are mine and I am yours. So be it. 
And may this covenant that I have made here on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Several of you have shared with me how meaningful it was to participate in our Covenant Renewal at the beginning of the year. I know that even for life-long Methodists in worship on Sunday there were some who had never participated in this kind of renewal or had not had the opportunity in many years. A few even asked if I could share the words to the entire renewal service that we used, beyond the Covenant Prayer that was in the bulletin. I am happy to do that at the bottom of this blog post.

I hope that you have taken some time to prayerfully consider what practice you want to engage in for this coming year as an effort to deepen and strengthen your relationship and connection to God. And my prayer is that you will find a sense of meaningful purpose and peace from praying the words of Wesley's Covenant Prayer on a regular basis. Pastor Daryl and I will certainly be praying it alongside of you.

Blessings


Wesley’s Covenant Renewal Service

The Proclamation
Leader:     Dearly loved brothers and sisters, the Christian life is a life found in Christ, redeemed from sin, and consecrated to God. We are those who have entered into this life and have been admitted into the new covenant of Jesus Christ. He is the Mediator of this covenant. He sealed it with His own blood so it would last forever.

On one side of this covenant stands God, who promises to give us new life in Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith. Every day God proves His goodness and grace to us, showing us that His promise still stands firm.

On the other side, we stand as those who promise to no longer live life for ourselves but instead to only live for Jesus Christ because He has loved us and given His life for us.

There are times in our lives when it is important for us to remember and reaffirm our promises and vows. In this same way, we come today to renew our covenant with God. Many generations have done this before us. Today we make the covenant our own, renewing with both joy and sincerity the covenant that binds us all to God.

The Confession
Leader:    We are those who seek to live as true disciples of Jesus Christ, but sometimes we fall short. Let us now examine ourselves before God, humbly confessing our sins and submitting our hearts so that we do not deceive ourselves and cut ourselves away from God. Let us pray:

People:    Father God, you have set forth the way of life through your Son Jesus Christ, whom you love dearly. We shamefully confess that we have been slow to learn of Him and have been reluctant to follow Him. You have spoken and called to us but we have not listened. You have revealed your beauty to us, but we have been blind. You have stretched out your hands to us through our friends, but we have passed by them. We have accepted your gifts and offered little thanks. We are unworthy of your unchanging love.

Leader:    We now confess to you our sins.
Please forgive us for the poverty of our worship…
for the selfishness of our prayers…
for our inconsistency and unbelief…
for the ways we neglect fellowship and Your grace…
for our hesitation to tell others about Christ….
for the ways we deceive others…

People:     Forgive us for when we waste time and when we misuse the gifts you have given us. Forgive us for when we have made excuses for the wrong things we have done and when we have purposefully avoided responsibility.

Leader:    Forgive us that we have been unwilling to overcome evil with good and that we have not been ready to carry our cross. Forgive us that we have not allowed your love to work through us to help others and that we have not made their suffering our own. Forgive us for those times when instead of working for unity we made it hard for others to live with us because of our lack of forgiveness, inconsiderate judgment, and quick criticism.

People:    Forgive us for when we have not tried to reconcile with others and when we have been slow to seek redemption.

Leader:     Forgive us also for these sins that we silently confess to you now.

Words of Assurance and Pardon
Leader:     God, the Father of all mercies, is faithful to cleanse us from our sins and restore us to Christ’s image. Praise and glory be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.

The Invitation
Leader:     Let us gathered here before the Lord now in covenant commit ourselves to Christ as his servants. Let us give ourselves to him so that we may fully belong to him. Jesus Christ has left us with many services to be done. Some of these services are easy and honorable, but some are difficult and disgraceful. Some line up with our desires and interests, others are contrary to both. In some we please both Christ and ourselves, but then there are other works where we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.

Jesus Christ, we offer you this prayer:

People:    Let me be your servant. Let me follow your commands. I will no longer follow my own desires. I give myself completely to your will.

Leader:     The power and strength to live as true servants is given to us in Christ. We accept the place and work that he gives us, acknowledging that he alone will be our reward.

People:     I am not my own. I am yours alone. Make me into what you will. Rank me with those you will. Put me to use for you. Put me to suffering for you. Let me be employed for you. Let me be laid aside for you. Let me be lifted high for you. Let me be brought low for you. Let me be full or let me be empty. Let me have all things or let me have nothing. With a willing heart, I freely give everything to Your pleasure and disposal.

Leader:     Christ is Savior to those who are His true servants. He is the source of all salvation to those who obey. To be His servant is to consent fully to His will. Christ accepts nothing less. Christ will be all in all, or he will be nothing.

Now confirm this truth in holy covenant. Make it a reality in your life in these ways:
First, set apart time in your day, more than once, to be spent alone with the Lord. Seek to perceive God’s special care for you and gracious acceptance of you. Carefully think through the words of this covenant and its conditions. Examine your heart, even if you have freely given your life to Christ. Name the sins in your life. Reflect on whether you are willing to choose Christ’s holy laws and strict commands. Be sure you are clear in all of these so you do not lie to God!

Second, uphold a serious spirit of holy awe and reverence.

Third, claim God’s covenant. Do not trust in your own strength and power but rely upon God’s promise of giving grace and strength. In this way, he will empower you to keep your promise.

Fourth, be determined to be faithful. You have given your heart and life to God. You have opened your mouth to dedicate yourself to the Lord. With God’s power, never go back to your former way of living.

And last, be prepared to renew your covenant with God. Fall on your knees. Lift your hands. Open your hearts.

The Covenant Prayer
Leader:     Let us pray together:

People:    My righteous God, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, see me now as I fall down before you. Forgive my unfaithfulness when I have not done your will. You promise mercy if I turn to You with my whole heart.

Leader:     God requires that you rid yourself of every idol in your life.

People:     From the bottom of my heart, I here and now renounce every idol in my life, covenanting with you that I will not commit any known sin. By turning against your will I have turned my love toward the world. In your power I will watch for any temptation that will lead me away from you.

Leader:     Through Jesus Christ, God offers to be your God again, if you allow him to be.

People:     Before all heaven and earth, I here and now acknowledge you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as my Lord and God. I vow to give all of myself, body and soul, to be your servant and to serve you in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life.

Leader:     God has given us Jesus as the way and means to salvation.

People:     Jesus, I here and now accept you and the only new and living Way. I join myself in covenant with you. I come to you hungry, sinful, miserable, bilnd, and naked, unworthy even to wash the feet of Your servants. With all my power, I accept you as my Lord and Head. I renounce my own unworthiness, 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.

Leader:     Christ has told you that you must suffer with him.

People:     Jesus, I here and now make this covenant with you and accept whatever comes in life. Through your grace I promise that neither life nor death will separate me from you.

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

People:     I here and now willingly take on your yoke and burden. All your laws are holy, just, and
good. I accept them as the rule for my words, thoughts, and actions, promising I will strive to order my whole life around your direction. I will not allow myself to neglect anything I know to be my duty.

Leader:     The Almighty God searches and knows you, even the thoughts of your heart.


People:     O God, you know that we have made this covenant today in sincerity, without deceit or reluctance. If you find anything false in us, guide us and help us to set it right. And now, glory be to you, God the Father. From this day forward, I shall look upon you as my God and Father. Glory be to you, God the Son. You have loved me and washed me from my sins in your own blood. From this day forward, I shall look upon you as my Savior and Redeemer. Glory be to you, O God the Holy Spirit. By your almighty power, you have turned my heart from sin to God. From this day forward I shall look upon you as my Comforter and Guide. O mighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you have now become my Covenant Friend. And I, through your infinite grace, have become your covenant servant. You are mine and I am yours. So be it. May this covenant that I have made here on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen.