Sunday night was one of my favorite Water’s Edge experiences so far!
We took John Wesley’s traditional Covenant Service and created a series of Prayer Stations that helped put some extra thought and action into the words. I’m going to list below the seven stations with his words (in blue) and the instructions from the station. This should give you a good idea of the experience.
As people moved about the room from station to station we had worship music (with lyrics up) playing and lots of candles and it was just beautiful! Thanks to all who helped me set up (Eric and Katie!) and for those who participated. It was a blessing to be a part of it!
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.
Station 1) SERVICE -
Setting: Mirrors – expo markers & erasers – chairs and stools in front of the mirrors
Instructions: Sit down in front of a mirror – look at yourself. Read these words from the covenant.
Commit your selves 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.
Look at yourself and ask God to reveal how he would like you to be his servant.
Read the words again. Then, writing on top of your image on the mirror – list your place(s) of service for the coming year – sit back and look at yourself again. Pray that God will give you the strength to follow through with this act of service. When you’re finished, use the eraser to wipe the mirror clean for the next person.
Station 2) SUBMISSION -
Setting: communion elements on a table, big free standing cross with white christmas lights wound around it.
Instructions: God has invited you to live under his authority, to live in the freedom that comes from following his lead, from salvation through his Son. Read the words from the covenant.
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 myself up to your will in all things.
Accepting Jesus’ death on the cross as the payment for our sin is what allows us to enter into God’s freedom and authority. As we partake of the bread and cup, we are remembering his sacrifice and renewing our covenant. Receive communion – The body of Christ broken for you – the blood of Christ shed for you. (take a piece of bread, dip it into the grape juice and eat both at once.)
When you say yes to Christ’s invitation you are also saying no to your selfish nature. To symbolize your willingness to place your identity in Christ – clip your name tag to the cross.
Station 3) SPECIFICS -
Setting: on a table laid a long strip of paper with the headings from the covenant written out in a series of columns, markers of different colors also on the table.
Instructions: The covenant you are making with God is specific, although the words from our service are general. As you move down the table read each general heading, write under it what you think the specifics are for your life that God is calling you to. What does he want you to do? What suffering might be needed? How might he use you? Where do you need to get out of the way? How are you full? Where are you emptied for his sake? What would it look like in your life, if you really did give it all to God’s pleasure and disposal? At each heading add your thoughts with a marker.
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 used by you, or laid aside for you,
let me be full, let me be empty,
I freely and with a willing heart give it all to your pleasure and disposal.
Station 4) CONFESSION -
Setting: a big bucket full of water, stones to drop into it, pillows to kneel down on ontop of a rug.
Instructions: Kneel down before God.
We can approach the throne of grace unashamed, but we still should do so in humility and with confession on our lips. On your knees, read these words from the covenant.
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, you require that I shall put away all idols that distract me from you.
I here from the bottom of my heart renounce them all.
I have turned my love toward the world, but in your power
I will turn away from all temptations that will lead me from you.
For my own righteousness is riddled with sin, I am unable to stand before you.
Through Christ, you have offered to be my God again.
Jesus, I do here on bended knees accept Christ as the only new and living Way.
Now pick up a stone – hold it in your hand tightly and name it – let it represent one of the idols, or sins in your life, that distract you from living fully in God. Ask God to forgive you for that thing and then drop the stone in the water. As you watch it drop to the bottom, know that it is gone and forgotten. Then, do all in God’s power not to pick it back up again.
Station 5) COVENANT -
Setting: Words from the covenant written out like a big scroll – with a place at the bottom for people to make their mark, finger paint, wipes & a trash.
Instructions: Read the words from the covenant, written from the heart of one Christ follower as the voice of all Christ followers. If you agree with these words, and can claim them as your own – then put your finger into some paint and sign your name to the bottom. Also, like in a modern day covenenant, put your mark (a fingerprint) next to the lines that especially speak to you. When you’ve finished, use the supplies to clean up.
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.
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.
Station 6) PLANS & PRAYER -
Setting: the Lord’s Prayer typed up and easy to read, calendar laid out, Bible open to read, a clock – plus the red yard and scissors.
Instructions: Part of your covenant to God is committing to some specific actions that will strengthen your relationship with God. Read through the words from the covenant and be encouraged to follow through with them – plan on it. Take a piece of string and tie it around your finger – let it be a reminder that you are called to follow through!
To make this covenant a reality in your life, listen to these admonitions:
Set apart some time to be spent alone before the Lord;
Consider what your sins are.
Be serious and in a spirit of holy awe and reverence.
Claim God’s covenant,
Rely upon God’s promise of giving grace and strength,
Trust not your own strength and power.
Resolve to be faithful.
With God’s power, never go back.
Be 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 you pray.
Then secondly, consider this – another big part of your covenant is to be a part of the body of Christ – the church. Gather together with two or more people who are here at this station. Hold hands in small circle and together pray the Lord’s Prayer. When you finish hug each member of the circle saying – “the Lord be with you” and they should respond, “and also with you”
Station 7) THANKSGIVING -
Setting: lots of candles of different sizes, matches and something to collect burned ones, printed prayer from the covenant in small chunks.
Instructions: Our response to God should always include thanksgiving. Read through the prayer from the Covenant then add any additional thanksgivings – light a candle for them as you lift them up. Dare to whisper them out loud as you do so – as a public display of your grateful heart.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you for all your patience and overflowing grace.
And now, glory be to you, O God the Father,
From this day forward we shall look upon as our God and Father.
(touch your forehead – symbolic of your willingness to look to him as leader)
Glory be to you, O God the Son,
who have loved us and washed us from our sins in your own blood,
and now is our Savior and Redeemer.
(touch your chest – symbolic of the work he has done at the center of your being)
Glory be to you, O God the Holy Spirit,
who by your almighty power have turned our hearts from sin to God.
(touch your left shoulder, then your right – symbolic of the spirit surrounding you)
O mighty God, the Lord all powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
you have now become our Covenant Friend.
And we, through your infinite grace, have become your covenant servants.
So be it. And let the covenant we have made on earth be ratified in heaven.
Anyone can ask for prayer, just let me know! You can talk to me or drop one of our prayer request cards in the worship space Drop Boxes. Please keep these things lifted up:
:: Pray for Britta Alton’s grandmother (Louise Kirby) – she might have to have a full hip replacement if what they did before continues to not be enough – she’s 88!
:: Jackie Anderson has an injured foot and is still struggling through some funk – please pray that she can continue to fight for healing and wholeness.