On Thursday, I went to the Centenary United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City for a United Methodist clergy meeting. Since it was our first meeting in this new year, we read and prayed our way through the liturgy of the Wesleyan Covenant Renewal Service. That service, found in our United Methodist Book of Worship, has been in use by Methodist people for more than 200 years. The Tongan pastors who were at the clergy meeting told us they use the Wesleyan Covenant Renewal Service every year on New Year’s Eve, at a worship service that has an even bigger attendance than Christmas Eve.
What makes the Wesleyan Covenant Renewal Service so important? It’s a call, at the beginning of a new time, to repent of sin, and to turn our lives over to God. The covenant renewal calls us to “consider the laws of Christ, how holy, strict, and spiritual they are, and whether [we], after having carefully considered them, are willing to choose them all.” It’s a call to dedicate ourselves afresh to the practice of holy living.
That sounds a lot like where we are in our sermon series on the Ten Commandments. After the free-for-all of the holiday season, our bodies, minds, and spirits crave some structure and clarity, some law and order. So, last Sunday, we began the New Year with commandments one and two and heard that we must worship God first and only. Today, as we move on to commandments three and four, I invite you to carefully consider these laws with me to see how we might practice holy living.