I am shamelessly plagiarising a colleague whose brilliant childrens address today used the Hokey Cokey to illustrate the need to offer our whole selves to God. Not just the good bits, the bits we want to offer, but our whole selves, warts and all. This was emphasised for me by the modern version of the Covenant Prayer, while I more often use the traditional words today these struck me with real power:
The Covenant Prayer
“I am no longer my own but yours.
Your will, not mine, be done in all things,
wherever you may place me,
in all that I do and in all that I may endure;
when there is work for me and when there is none;
when I am troubled and when I am at peace.
Your will be done when I am valued and when I am disregarded;
when I find fulfilment and when it is lacking;
when I have all things, and when I have nothing.
I willingly offer all I have and am To serve you, as and where you choose.
Glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours.
May it be so for ever. Let this covenant now made on earth Be fulfilled in heaven.
You may want to read that again, slowly, for again that is what we were challenged to do today….
We were then challenged to remember that we are all blessed not only for ourselves but to be a blessing to others. I wondered for a while why I found that so challenging, then it became clear, in the context of offering my whole self I can become so blinded by my faults and flaws that I feel very quickly that I have nothing to offer. The other problem with faults and flaws is that if you are anything like me you want to keep them firmly locked away, but in doing so they take on monstrous proportions, lurking in shadows and threatening to jump out at any moment.
When I dare to offer my whole self I have to go to the closet where my faults and flaws lie and bring them out into the light, for that is the only way I can offer myself to God. Here I am Lord wholly available, all of me, not just a part of me….
Here I am shadows and light, guilt and gifts, shame and glory….
Here I am, all of me, and that is not easily dealt with in the words of confession even though they remind me that I am accepted, and forgiven and loved by the God who calls me into covenant with himself and is in fact the one by and through whom I can dare to enter into such a holy transaction.
Here I am, all of me, in the end I have to gather myself up into a bundle and throw myself at the foot of the cross as it is only through the cross and offering my whole self as a living sacrifice that ressurection, Spirit powered, life giving resurrection can begin to do a work in me. I need to do this over and over, and todays prayer reminded me not only of that fact, but not to divide myself into darkness and light, not to hide parts of myself away and withhold them from Gods blessing but to bring everything, all of me, my whole-self into the light where the darkness will be dispelled, and to keep on doing so as I become aware of those lurking doubts and fears and whispered echoes of shame.
Here I am, all of me, I dare to offer all of me, and the miracle is that in doing so my encounter is with pure grace, a grace that carries me when I cannot move forward, holds me when I am afraid, and welcomes me, all of me, and because of that grace I dare at last to put my whole self in!