In worship this weekend at the Church of the Resurrection, we will hear the story about how Joseph and Mary went to the Temple in Jerusalem to present baby Jesus to the Lord. Similar to Christian infant baptism, it is a Jewish custom to offer a new baby in gratitude and thanksgiving to God, acknowledging that the baby is a gift from God and belongs to God while he or she is being cared for by the parents. This ritual can also be called dedication or consecration and means to “designate as holy.” This story of baby Jesus reminds me that all children are a gift from God, that we belong to God and that God cares deeply for each one of us.
Whether we have been baptized or not, the New Year is a wonderful time to re-dedicate ourselves as Christ’s servants, to give ourselves back to him, and to remind ourselves that we belong to him. There is a special prayer called a Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition that lends us beautiful language to pray our own prayer of dedication to God. Here is the prayer in language from the time of John Wesley:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Some churches have a tradition of praying this prayer together just before the New Year. I think it is a prayer that can be prayed every day. It that often takes me to my knees. I also like to pray it sitting with my hands open on my lap. I keep a business size card of this prayer in my wallet, so that it is always nearby. It has the traditional language on one side and contemporary language on the other. Click here to see what the card looks like. You can purchase one for yourself at The Well bookstore.
Our contemporary worship leader, Lance Winkler, wrote a song with lyrics inspired by this prayer. Sometimes I find that praying to a melody helps the prayer sink into my heart faster. Click here and then click on Covenant Song to hear this beautiful prayer of worship and dedication.
–Nancy Pauls, Pastor of Prayer