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Sharing Our Faith Together

The Covenant Service with a Love Feast

by Rev Greg Obong-Oshotse 10 January 2021
This service is also available on zoom at 10.30am GMT. ID 867 6736 1050 Passcode 881213

Call to Worship
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbour and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31.33-34

 

PART A: THE COVENANT SERVICE 

Hymn: Come let us sing of a wonderful love

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Let us pray together
Gracious God, on this day, I and many others seek to renew our covenant with You. Your love is strong and faithful. You never stop loving us. Our love for You is weak and fickle and we often fall short of what we have committed ourselves to be and do. Forgive us for our reluctance to follow Christ, our half-hearted worship, our failures in caring, service and witness, and our unwillingness to challenge injustice.

Have mercy on us, O God, and renew in us both the desire and the ability to be people of love.

Thank you for your gracious words:

 ‘Your sins are forgiven’.  Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading: John 15:1-11
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Notes for Reflection
1. A Picture of The True Disciple - A branch on a Vine looked after by God verses 1, 5

2. The Proof of True Discipleship - A branch that bears fruit verses 2, 4, 5, 8

3. The Priority of The True Disciple - A branch that abides verse 4

4. The Place of The True Disciple - A branch that is dependent on the Vine verse 5, 6

5. The profit of The True Disciple - A branch that is flourishing verses 5, 6, 7, 11


The image of the vine is an organic picture.  The branches are growing in the vine. They are connected to every other branch through the vine and fruit grows naturally on the branches. The branches have no choice. They are part of the Vine. But Jesus’ use of this image to speak of our relationship with him offers choice and invites our participation. We are asked to abide in the vine and so grow and be fruitful. Today, we choose again to trust God, to walk with Jesus and to live in the ways of the kingdom. Take the Methodist Way of Life Card.  Before you say the covenant prayer, read through the commitments on the card and reflect on which of these you want to grow in during the coming year.

As far as we are able, with God’s help:

Worship
We will pray daily.
We will worship with others regularly.
We will look and listen for God in Scripture, and the world.

Learning and Caring
We will care for ourselves and those around us.
We will learn more about our faith.
We will practise hospitality and generosity.

Service
We will help people in our communities and beyond.
We will care for creation and all God’s gifts.
We will challenge injustice.

Evangelism
We will speak of the love of God.
We will live in a way that draws others to Jesus.
We will share our faith with others.


A time of prayer - Take time to sit quietly. Then say the Covenant Prayer aloud:
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. Amen


Prayers of intercession
Pray for your church … that it may be a faithful witness to God’s love.

Pray for the church worldwide …that in word and action it may help people to see God’s glory

Pray for the leaders of nations… that they act justly and guide wisely.

Pray for those pushed to the margins of society …that they and their gifts may be made welcome.

Pray for those in need…especially people we known

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come;  thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily  bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass  against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For  thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Hymn: All I once held dear.

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PART B: THE LOVE FEAST 
Welcome to our online love feast, which is a way of expressing the sharing, belonging and fellowship we have together as followers of Jesus.

Prayer
Holy God, we thank you that wherever we are you are with us. We praise you that in Christ we have new life. Unite us in this worship by your Holy Spirit that we may each know your blessing. Amen.

Testimony – Sue Muessig
As a very shy girl, I found school and socialising with people very difficult, but we did attend the local Methodist Church in Burnley and I enjoyed going to the Sunday School and then the Youth Group.  I have always believed in God but it was when I went to University that I really felt His presence.  Only a few weeks into the term and feeling very homesick, I joined the Christian Union and we went on a weekend retreat.  During a worship session we sang the song “I want to be out of my depth in Your love, feeling Your arms so strong around me… learning to let You lead, putting all trust in You…”

I made that my prayer, and by the end of the weekend, I felt ready to face the world!  It didn’t mean that everything was suddenly easy, but I knew that God was with me helping me.

My studies were a mixture of education and social work and I didn’t know what area of work I wanted to go into except that I wanted to work with children.  I started to volunteer at a Christian Kidz Klub and as my faith continued to grow, I realised that this was what I wanted to do, but I also knew that I was nowhere near ready.  I wanted to know more about God’s Word and I definitely wasn’t confident enough and so I decided to go to Bible College in Scotland.  

Through the Bible teaching, practical training, and a lot of prayer and learning to trust God in challenging situations, God really helped me.  He changed me from being someone with no confidence who didn’t see any good in themselves, to someone who knows they are loved and chosen by God and with His strength able to tell others that God could help them too.  This is also where I met Stephen and how over time, God led us to Derby and to my job as Children and Family Worker which I love because I have opportunities to tell children that there is a God who loves them and always hears their prayers.  

The last two years have been really difficult, losing my mum so suddenly and then becoming unwell with Crohn’s disease myself; but if I had to give you one word that I have held onto it would be ‘hope’.  My faith gives me hope, not like the hope that Burnley wins the next football match, but a sure and certain hope that no matter how broken things are, God is still in control and things can better.  He has a hope and a future for us.

I started with some words from a song and I wanted to end with some as well as they say it much better than I could:
“I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains,
Hope that doesn’t ever end;
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen.
Silent prayers get answered,
Broken hearts become brand new;
That’s what faith can do”
That is what my faith and my hope bring to me as I trust in God day by day.

Bible Readings
Isaiah 55:1-11; 1 Corinthians 13; Matthew 22:34-40

Hymn: Come, and let us sweetly join.
 

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Sharing the Love Feast Cake or Bread

Singing of a Love feast grace
Be present at our table, Lord;
Be here and everywhere adored;
Thy creatures bless, and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee  
Tune: Old Hundredth 

Eating: Love Feast Cake or Bread eaten in Silence 

Drinking: Each person drinks from their cup of water or tea

 

Hymn: Christ, From Whom All Blessings Flow

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The Grace 

Order of Service adapted from the Methodist Church website