Tomorrow I will pray the Methodist Covenant Prayer, it is something that has slowly become a part of me over the last 12 years, these are the years that I have not only been a member of but also worked for the Methodist Church. I came to Methodism by accident ( if there is any such thing in the plans and purposes of God), a job description fitted and so the story began to unfold.
I honestly cannot remember the impact that saying the prayer for the first time had upon me, it was not a part of my tradition ( I came from no tradition) and I did not know its background. Since that point however it began to sink in….
Those powerful releasing words: I am no longer my own but yours!
I remember praying them at college before I was stationed ( placed with a church as the Minister with pastoral charge), tears rolling down my cheeks at the enormity of what they meant, placing myself into God’s hands for whatever the future meant. It took on the same gravity the year I prayed it with my two congregations here in Blackpool knowing that my family life would never be the same again.
I have said it in hard times and in lighter times and yet always it begins with the acknowledgement that I am not my own. I will not lead the service tomorrow, I have the weekend off, and so am going to a church in a nearby Circuit to be a part of the congregation, I will lead the Covenant Service on two subsequent Sundays for my two churches in Blackpool and will do so not only in the knowledge of where they are at the present time but also with the knowledge that I am leaving them this summer.
I call them my churches, and yet I am also keenly aware that they are not mine, I have had the privilege of being their minister for the last few years and will continue to have the privilege of leading them for a little while longer, but they are not mine. Like me they belong to God, and just as he does for me God has a plan and a purpose for them.
In this time of transition I must go through a process of letting go, again, for much of life is a series of releasing moments. It is so easy to be a control freak, so easy to claim a ministry or project or idea as mine, but the truth is they are not mine, I may have had a place in them, played a part for them but ultimately unless I dare to hold loosely to them then I risk destroying or damaging them.
Likewise with any gifts of graces that God may have chosen to invest in me. I am not my own, and that is in itself a gift, a true grace, a releasing love that calls me to place myself 100% into Gods loving hands and allow him to lead me on.
This last year has been a year of big changes, I have seen a vision laid out but will not see it come to fruition, I have made what was to me a surprising but necessary decision to move, and believe that move is right and am thankful for the one who enabled me to make it. I am no longer my own, I belong instead to Christ in whom I live and move and have my being on my best days, and who I cling to and who holds me on my worst ones.
I have chosen to be a part of a congregation because I need to hear Gods forgiveness offered to me, need to say that powerful prayer with others, and need somebody to place bread and wine into my hands. I need the reminder that I am a part of something so much more than I am, Gods kingdom coming about among and through his people infusing the world with holy flavours and colours poured out through the Holy Spirit. Life giving, living water flowing with the truth…
I am no longer my own….