Pastoral Letter: 9th January 2021

Dear Friend from Bridport United Church, Uploders Methodist Church or Hope and Radipole United Reformed Churches,

I am no longer my own but yours (Methodist Covenant Prayer) 

My theological College in Cambridge worked jointly with several others (two Anglican, a Methodist, a Catholic and an Orthodox) and fortnightly we worshipped together, sharing the pain that was enforced but the fact that we had so much in common but our denominational restrictions meant that we were not all allowed to share Holy Communion together.

But one service that was a revelation for me and always set me up for the New Year, was the annual Methodist Covenant Service, which, despite its denominational roots, was a service that united all of us, no matter our tradition.  Indeed, although I served my first 10 years as a Minster in a single-denomination pastorate of United Reformed Churches, I introduced the Prayer and we said it together in all my churches in services annually.  

It has been a joy to be able to do it ‘properly’ (well I hope I do) now I am here in a pastorate that includes Methodist churches.  It is a part of the church year that I look forward to and a particular sadness that the latest Lockdown has meant we have suspended live services once again and that means postponing the Covenant Services planned for Bridport, Uploders and Dorchester.  Nevertheless it is postponement not cancellation!

For me the consolation has been that I had a first last week in having the privilege of leading the Covenant Service at Bere Heath Chapel, which lies in the middle of nowhere just outside Bere Regis.  As you all know I am ‘Mr Techy’ (I was ‘Gadget Man’ at college!!) and I took my laptop and screen to Bere Heath to supply the music and words.  However, I went low tech on the Covenant and printed out the words and prayers on a sheet of A4 paper … and then forgot them and left them at home!

So, instead, we said the prayer line by line, much as perhaps it was said in the early days when so many folks would have been illiterate anyway?  And it was SO powerful!  Even more powerful than usual as the words seemed more meaningful, as indeed some of us have found saying the words of hymns that we currently aren’t allowed to sing?  My spine tingled and myself strangely moved.

So, how about until we meet again in live worship, setting some time aside to sit and think, to contemplate and find peace … and then slowly, line by line, saying the Covenant Prayer?  I recommend it to you:

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 blessèd 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.
 

Your Minister,

Peter

So … our Service options this week:

 

1) Sadly we have moved back into Lockdown and though communal worship is permissible it is strongly discouraged and, with the safety of our membership in mind, we have agreed to conform with our denominational recommendations to suspend live worship.  There will be no live services until further notice.

 

2) This week’s Video Service on YouTube is led by Rev'd John Yarrien and will go live at 5pm on Saturday. 

Here’s the Link:

 

3) The Audio Service  from the United Reformed Church will this week from the Daily Devotions Team will be looking at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan.  It is led by The Revd. Memona Shahbaz. Memona is a minister in Eastbourne in the URC's Southern Synod.  Returning to a 'traditional' format of services, hymns include
   Summoned by the God who made us,
   a wonderful Robin Mark rendition of All to Jesus I surrender,
   Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty and
   What a friend we have in Jesus.

Here’s the link: 

https://soundcloud.com/andy-braunston/urc-daily-devotions-worship-for-sunday-10th-january-2021-revd-memona-shahbaz