Happy New Year. For reasons best known to John Wesley, the Methodist year starts in September, and yesterday the Connexional Team gathered at Methodist Church House in London for the annual service to mark the beginning of the Connexional year.
This year the covenant service was used, with the powerful covenant prayer being central. I had the privilege of being asked to preach and David presided.
We were reminded that this year there will be a general election and that whilst competing political parties will be developing their respective manifestos, the manifesto offered by Jesus when he quoted the words of Isaiah in Nazareth - “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” - makes it clear that as a Church we are called to sit alongside those who often find themselves either on the edge of our society or even excluded from it.
When we set this alongside the covenant prayer - “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 have all things, let me have nothing” – we are left in no doubt what signing up to Jesus’ manifesto might mean. This commitment may feel too difficult to make, the challenge too daunting to accept, but God goes with us all the way and unlike many a politician, can be depended on totally.