To God’s beloved people at John Wesley:
At the start of every new year, many of us take a moment to set resolutions. We aspire to go to the gym more often, to read that pile of books that’s been building up on our nightstand, or to finally take up that new hobby. And while some of us follow through on those resolutions, we know that by February many of us will have already laid aside our ambitious goals for the new year.
For the people called Methodist, the beginning of a new year was often a time to gather together in prayer and resolution. John Wesley and the early Methodists would meet together on New Year’s Eve for a service they called Watchnight. Together they would sing and pray and read scripture. They would make resolutions for the year ahead. And there was one resolution they all shared: to renew their covenant with God and live ever more faithfully.
The thing I like best about this resolution is that it’s wrapped up in grace. Whenever we seek to live faithfully, we know that we need God’s help and guidance. We know that we will often fall short, and yet we also know that God will always walk alongside us, helping us to learn and grow and continue moving on toward perfection. Because at the beginning of the year and at its end, God promises to be our God, gracious and loving to us all of our days.
So as this new year begins, I invite you to pray this prayer that Methodists have been praying for centuries. It invites us to dedicate our lives to God, in this new year and in every year to come. God is ours, and we are God’s. So be it.
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 laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me 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.
Grace and peace to you,