The service was based on two things: the Examen, which is a prayer practice from Ignatian spirituality, and the New Year Covenant service of the Northumbria Community which included the Methodist Covenant Prayer.
The Examen was designed by Ignatius of Loyola in the late 15th Century. It is a way of finding God in all things and can be used daily. The Examen helps us to discern the presence or absence of God in our lives. We are most available to God in what produces unity and peace among people and what instils feelings of peace, love, and integrity in us. By contrast if we find what drains us of life, what produces dissension and hostility in society and selfishness and vengeance in us we have found where we block God. The Examen is sometimes referred to as reading the scripture of our life.
The Covenant Prayer asks us to make quite profound promises:
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Use me as you choose;
rank me alongside whoever you choose;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
raised up for you, or brought down low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty;
let me have all things, let me have nothing;
with my whole heart I freely choose to yield all things to your ordering and approval.
Knowing that not everyone would feel comfortable with these promises, I suggested that they miss out those they felt unable to make.
Over the course of the service, an hour near enough, about 30 people attended for at least some of the time, with 18-20 present throughout. It was wonderful to see so many people there, many of whom I hadn’t seen for some time. It was certainly an excellent way to welcome the New Year as a community.
Every blessing for the New Year to everyone, whether or not you made it to the service.
Helene Milena – Lay Pastor