I have never been much for New Year’s resolutions. I’m happy for those who find them helpful, but it’s been a long time since the last time I made one – and even longer since I kept one! I enjoy having New Year’s Day to get together with friends, but it’s never really meant as much to me as I know it does to others. Even when I was younger I remember staying up late to watch the ball drop at Times Square on TV, thinking “Is that all there is?” when it came down.
This year I know I’ll be busy with the usual activities of any other Sunday. Two morning services, an afternoon nap and 3rd service are plenty. At least I won’t miss the Rose Bowl, since they never hold it on Sunday!
But John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, felt that New Year’s was a wonderful opportunity for us to renew our covenant with God. As Christians look to the year to come, he thought we could focus our hopes, our intentions, our energies, toward God’s purposes. Over the years he developed prayers for a service on New Year’s Eve, which he called “Watchnight.” It was intended as an alternative to some of the existing New Year’s revelry, and included prayers of confession for the past year and a rededication of our lives for the new.
It includes one of my favorite of Wesley’s prayers. Over the years it has meant a great deal to me and been a source of encouragement and renewal. I thought you might also find it helpful as we move into the coming year together.
Grace and peace,
A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition (Contemporary Version)
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you.
Let me be praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven. Amen.