I've sat down to write the second part of this blog many times, but it wasn't until a conversation I had yesterday that I realised where I was going with this. The previous blog I spoke about how the covenant prayer as an individual was really important to me. Two weeks later I still have my head reeling in the enormity of the promise made through the words. I was however slightly disappointed that none of the young people in my one of my Youth groups had been invited to join in that part of the service involving the covenant, nor did they know what a covenant was, (you will get to here a lot more about this particular youth group as we explore some big questions they've asked). So we looked at the prayer and with an honesty and a conviction said that it would be difficult for them to pray this prayer and truly mean all of it and rejoice in it. I admire their honesty as it is a difficult prayer. Even when I pray it, I strive to achieve the covenant I have made, knowing that I am truly relying on the Lords grace.
As a Church however are we committing to these words:
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
Each Church has a community in which they live. What does it mean to be Christ among that community. Not differentiating or discriminating on gender, age, income or background. Not only that but as a Church we can be a catalyst for change in our society for acceptance. We have a saviour who hung out with the unemployed and the rich, the prostitute and the hard working labourers.
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
I often wonder how as a church do we cope with suffering as well as we could do. Do we allow time for mourning in our worship, we praise and adore God but do we allow time for lament, praise and adoration through our suffering.
How do we hold in contention lamentation and praise. How do we work through Psalm of lament or disorientation, such as Psalm 137?
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
How as a church do we cope with the idea that some churches (not with a capital C) have to die and be laid aside for the Kingdom of God. How do we let go for God, but also discern what is his will to keep going. All churches have seasons, and I truly believe that sometimes a church has to go through phases of smaller groups to give it a chance of regrowth.
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
What would this mean for the church? It could be suggested throughout the history of the world Church, there have been times when the church has been the key resource within civilisation, but there are also times when the church becomes the margins are part of the margins. In some places Christians are not persecuted but there are many places where being brought low can mean persecution, toture and death. Its often in these places that the church is growing. (I had a friend at Uni - bible college uni- who said if they ever became prime minister, their contribution to the Church in Great Britain would be to persecute it to help it grow.)
let me be full, let me be empty,
A little more on the on the seasons stuff (particularly thinking on the Ecclesiastes 3). I know very little about growing plants, but I am aware that for some plants it is essential that they have to be pruned to grow to their full potential. I think this is a very similar trait for the church. Its probably the same for many things, so let our churches be full and empty in relation to your will Lord. When we are empty Lord let us grow deeper, set down stronger roots.
let me have all things, let me have nothing:
Sometimes as a church its great to have amazing resources, to have a full PA system and the volunteers to run it. sometimes having no volunteers and being resourceful can be a tool to aid the kingdom. Sometimes having nothing means we're left to work with nothing but the people in which we can authentically connect with.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.'
A covenant for the whole church. All we are, the coffee mornings, the mums and tots, the youth groups, arts and crafts group, book groups, bible study, sunday mornings, ladies circle, mens breakfast, football teams, boccia teams, friends who meet for cake, or fellowship with a movie, all of the churches activities are God's. Its not the Sunday morning, its the whole week 24/7. I had a small trip to A+E this week and it was the love of the church (with some help from my mum) that got me to A+E to make sue I was okay. Trying to convince a church that they have an outreach to over 30 families even if they dont appear on a sunday morning is hard. But it is all for the Glory of God. So le it be. Amen
On a further note, I think its possibly harder to hold on to God in the easier stuff, where as when life is harder, you have nothing left to hold on to but God.