On Sunday January 4th we had our covenant service led by our minister Trevor Dixon. The service began with the gathering of the people of God before we sang, ‘Brightest and best of the sons of the morning’ and had the prayers of praise and the collect. I read the reading from the Law, Exodus 24v3-11 and two other members of the congregation read the readings from the prophets, Jeremiah 31v31-34 and from the epistles, Romans 12v1-2. We then sang, ‘let earth and heaven combine’, with the wonderful couple of lines, ‘our God contracted to a span, incomprehensively made man.’ Trevor read the gospel reading from John 1v1-18 before he preached.
Trevor said that he liked to do technical things. He described the setting in the church he was in a few years ago, where there were two television screens with no picture on them. The preacher could be heard saying that no one had seen God. In the first reading from Exodus some were allowed to see God but their lives had been spared. It was usual for death to be the punishment for seeing God. The televisions in the church became live and Trevor, the preacher was seen. Then the camera operator came into view walking backwards as he photographed Trevor coming into view. Then the filming stopped as Trevor was now in view. Trevor then made the point that no technology is necessary as God is with us. He told a short story about a little girl who was frightened by thunder and lightning and did not feel comforted when she was told not to be afraid as God was with her; she needed a God with skin on!
God had not been seen before but now the Son made God known. He was full of glory, grace, truth and fullness. The moment the Word became flesh was expressed in a poetic way. Conversation became meat. It is almost too wonderful to comprehend. The word, Flesh, is a mundane word; flesh is vulnerable, temporal; flesh can be torn, and diseased. Flesh is born to decay; dust to dust. In contrast with the ordinariness of flesh there are lofty affirmations of glory and grace. God who had never been seen became known in flesh as a human being; as one of the poorest and humblest he came to understand flesh. The rich and the poor possess flesh but the poor know vulnerability and the poverty of the flesh. Flesh is frail and can be brutalised; the poorest Indian slave worker, a child worker, sex slaves, those affected by Ebola. Glory for Jesus was being beaten, and his flesh was hung on Golgotha. Flesh was chosen to reveal God’s truth and grace. The Wisdom of God is incarnate and glorious. God would not choose flesh, as it was too un-god-like and ordinary but he chose flesh. God was born not into a palace but a stable. The surprise of God in flesh makes possible the ministry of relationships in the community. Jesus argued that there could be closeness to God even in the flesh. The unknown God became known in the flesh, father and friend. As God has sent Jesus, he sends his followers into the world to be his flesh in the world to make God known. Jesus was vulnerable as are all his followers in the ministry of serving the needy, the sick and unimportant, to make God known in ordinary daily life and friendships. We are God’s messengers as we feed the hungry, house the homeless. In the covenant service we offer ourselves, our whole being and our flesh to God. We are called to do what God wants now the Word has become flesh. So the world looks at us as representatives of God’s glory, pledged to serve and follow Jesus.
Then we made our confession before we prepared to renew our covenant with God. We then sang,
‘Come, let us use the grace divine,
And all, with one accord,
In a perpetual cov’nant join
Ourselves to Christ the Lord:’
We then remade our covenant with God acknowledging that ‘I am no longer my own but yours. Your will, not mine, be done in all things, wherever you may place me, in all I do and all that I may endure; I willingly offer all I am to serve you, as and where you choose. Glorious and blessed 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’
Trevor celebrated the communion after we sang, ‘God who sets us on a journey.’ After receiving the communion we sang, ‘Sent by the Lord am I’. Trevor concluded worship with the blessing.