Sermon Notes 12.29.19

12-29-19             Sermon Notes                  “Covenant Renewal Service”
This coming Sunday, we are going to join together in One United Service at 10:00 am.  We will worship together in the gym and have a “Covenant Renewal Service.”  In case you have never been to such a service, let me fill you in on the background…
In 1775, John Wesley introduced a covenant service as an important part of spiritual life in the Methodist Societies. This renewal service was a time for the Methodists to gather annually in a time of self-examination, reflection, and dedication, wholly giving up themselves and renewing covenant with God. Repentance through confession and commitment was a key focus of the service, demanding humility from those willing to submit themselves to the dynamic words stated within the liturgy.
According to Wesley’s journal, though the covenant renewal service was held on various occasions throughout the year, by the end of his life, the service was observed typically on or the Sunday nearest January 1st. The covenant renewal service is a practice that continues in churches and Christian communities today, often near the beginning of the New Year. It has undergone many revisions and adaptations, but its purpose as an evocative ceremony of commitment to ongoing discipleship and Christ-like character has always remained intact.  (https://www.seedbed.com/john-wesleys-covenant-renewal-service-today/)
Our service this Sunday will include prayer, music by our praise team, a special scripture reading from the Old Testament (2 kings 23: 1-3), a liturgy of Confession and Forgiveness, a sermon based on Luke 2: 41-52, and then finally Wesley’s Covenant Prayer.  Here is the passage the sermon will come from:
41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents[a] saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[b] 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.  (Luke 2: 41-52 NRSV).
The sermon for Sunday will be, “One to Grow On.”  It will help us make our plans to make the New Year a Year of spiritual growth.  Luke 2: 52 says that Jesus grew in four areas:  wisdom, years, divine favor, and human favor.  What if we made growth in these areas our “resolution” for 2020?  A great way to prepare our hearts for the New Year is to renew our covenant together in this special service!
See you Sunday,
Pastor Sam

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