Monday, October 25, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Renewing the Covenant

The Pastor’s Perspective
“Renewing the Covenant”
First Published: January 2, 2007

Happy New Year, 2007! I want to begin this new year of “Pastor’s Perspective” columns reflecting on our “watch-night service” on the last Sunday evening of 2006. Derek conceived the idea and designed the whole service, beginning to end, and so many of you have indicated to me already what a blessing it was. Barbara Porter said to me afterwards that it was the most amazing service she has ever attended in all her life. We had a wonderful crowd, the hymns and singing were rich. Derek’s message was timely and sobering, while encouraging at the same time. Our public covenanting (with the beautiful and meaningful words assembled by Derek) was solemn, and yet exhilarating. But it will be the testimonies of Don Breazeale and Paul Stephenson that linger in my heart for many years to come. I simply cannot describe the profundity and power of what they shared from their hearts. Thank you Derek, Don and Paul.

On Saturday morning, January 12, 1722, right at 285 years ago, Edwards wrote in his diary:
“I have, this day, solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed when I was taken into the communion of the church. I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, these affections, which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members — no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained anything as my own. ... I have been this morning to him, and told him, that I gave myself wholly to him. I have given every power to him, ... I have this morning told him that I did take him for my whole portion and felicity, looking on nothing else as any part of my happiness... and that I would adhere to the faith and obedience of the Gospel, however hazardous and difficult the confession and practice of it may be. ...This, I have done; and I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication, and to receive me now as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts many or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his”
(Jonathan Edwards, Works 1:xxv).

Let us so dedicate ourselves to God, this year. I prayed on Sunday night this prayer for our congregation: “O Lord, you have made us for yourself, for your glory and our highest aim in life is to glorify and enjoy you. Yet we are prone to wander, Lord, we feel it, prone to leave the God we love. So here is our heart, Lord, here is all that we have and are, take and seal it for thy courts above. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” May God graciously grant it.

Your friend,
Ligon Duncan

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