By making Three Simple Rules and Five Marks of a Methodist accessible
for a current United Methodist and Wesleyan audience, Abingdon Press
has reintroduced Wesley’s formative identity and boosted our way of
Christian living in thousands of congregations.
The next most important document that Wesley delivered to the rapidly
expanding societies and congregations was The Wesley Covenant Prayer and
Renewal Service from 1755, which are crucial to Methodist identity.
This service, a liturgical event in 1755, was preceded by several
mornings of teaching from John Wesley about “the means of increasing
serious religion.” Charles Wesley also wrote a hymn supporting the
prayer – “Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine.”
Over the centuries since 1755, many Methodists have used this liturgy on
New Year’s Eve – the Watch Night Service – as a service of renewal of
the individual’s covenant with God for the coming year. More recently
many churches have found other opportunities to provide this opportunity
for the congregation.
Wesley’s covenant renewal can function now as an accessible church-wide
campaign that culminates in the liturgical affirmation and faithful
promise to love God and neighbor faithfully. The campaign could be:
1) Used during Advent and culminate on New Year’s Eve with the Covenant prayer committed to memory and resolve.
2) Used from mid-September, with emphasis on homecoming and harvest, and
culminated with the liturgical event on All Saint’s Day.
3) Used prior to Lent and culminate on Ash Wednesday, or
4) Used during Lent and culminate on during holy week.