Thursday, January 8, 2009

Praying the Covenant Prayer

Wesley's Covenant Prayer is a daunting one to pray- whether you mean it or fake it. Corporately, it's sort of like, "One, two, three, all together..." for such an intensively personal statement of surrender. The prayer always seems to expose my lack of surrender and letting go! My lack of sincerity in wanting to hold onto my own stuff. In that way, it has more often than not been a confession of where I am not rather than a true statement of where I am. Which means that I usually experience desolation, not consolation, with The Covenant Prayer.

Philippians 3:7-8 came to mind when we were led in Wesley's Covenant Prayer Sunday, January 4. It was the new frame that I needed in order to see better. The different way of seeing is gaining Christ, instead of losing rubbish. When gaining Christ is the purpose, then both losing and having are not ultimate in themselves. Our emptying, as painful as it may be, serves the larger horizon of abundance with Christ. Likewise our having, as exhausting as that may be, can be known in the One who calls the heavy laden to rest. This One loves us in loss and abundance.

We can offer and we can give both our desolation and consolation to God, who in Jesus, invites us to become acquainted with his transforming love in both loss and renewal, in both the pain of our suffering and the hope and possibility that second chances bring. (3:10) That offering is our choice, our part of the covenant.

As for the "attainment" portion of this passage (3:11), I like to see it in light of the journey. As Paul used a foot race metaphor, I see it in terms of the co-participation and encounter with God's grace that sanctification is. Or as the Moravian Daily Texts for this Epiphany put it: Your itinerary is sure to lead us homeward. Your glory bright far excels the sun's clear light.

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