Happy New Year! It's 2018.  It's hard to believe.  On one hand it feels like just yesterday it was 2016 and on the other hand I wasn't sure we would ever see an end to the year 2017.  But here we are in a brand new year.  A new month, a new day, a new start.  It is also a time when a lot of people make resolutions to change their lives.  You know, something like "I will not eat 6 donuts a day," or "I will spend at least 30 minutes everyday reading a book."  Most of our resolutions have to do with weight and exercise.  We promise "I will exercise every single day" Or "I will eat healthy every day this year."

But, as I am sure is no surprise to you, many of the New Year resolutions are made by people who will keep them for exactly long as they are convenient, and the minute the resolutions become a challenge to keep they are dropped like a hot pot being grabbed with bare hands. It is approximated that only about 8 out of every 100 people keep their New Year resolution for an entire year, and the sad or funny thing is that the number may well be less than that. Granted, there is no way to really count how many people keep their New Year resolutions, but the concept remains the same: New Year's resolutions are made with good intentions and plans, but sometimes they are made to either only impress friends at New Year's parties, or because we get wrapped up in the idea of the newness of it all.

I will admit that I am not really one to make New Year resolutions.  I used to, but then would get so angry with myself when I was unable to keep them.  I also realized that if there is a change that I want to make in my life, I don't need to wait for a new day, or new week, or even new year.  If there is an opportunity to make improvements, I figure that now is as good a time as any! 

But, while I do not tend to make resolutions, I do tend to get caught up in the newness of a new year.  So I like to take advantage of the 'newness' and use it as a grounding, a sort of course correction for the foundations of my faith.  And I do this each and every year with the Wesley Covenant Prayer. The Wesley Covenant Prayer was adapted by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, for use in the Renewal of the believer's Covenant with God.  It says:

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty,

let me have all things, let me have nothing:
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. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

This prayer reminds me at the beginning of each year that I am a child of God, and that every single thing I do, is supposed to be for the glory of God.  This prayer helps me to humble myself, to become empowered, and reminds me to listen to the calling of God each and every day.  And while I tend to use this prayer each January, there are other times in the year when I pull it out as well.  You see, there isn't a wrong time to renew your covenant with God.  In fact I'm pretty sure it is always the right time to renew your Covenant; every year, every month, every week, or every day even.  One of the beautiful things about God's grace is that God is always making all things new.  And we are given every chance to make that renewal. 

So I invite you to use this prayer, to read it carefully, and to renew your own Covenant with God.  Imagine what this year will hold with all of us following the call of God on our lives each and every day. Imagine the Kingdom of God.  Amen.

Rev. Cassie Rapko

Photo Credit: Statue of John Wesley in Epworth England, photo taken by Rev. Rapko in 2007