This week for his ecumenical tithing Fr Martin Magill returned to the Dock Church’s monthly service on board the Nomadic, which rests in dry dock in the Titanic Quarter.
The event followed the Methodist tradition of a New Year covenant service, but as always with the Dock, people from a variety of denominations took part. The Methodist Church in Ireland describes the covenant service this way:
The start of a new year gives us the opportunity of starting afresh.
From the earliest days of the Methodist movement, John Wesley invited the Methodist people to an annual service for the renewal of our Covenant with God, normally on the first Sunday of each year. Much of the original material for this service was sourced from 17th century Puritans and there have been several revisions since.
The Dock’s service featured an adaptation of 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 be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.’
Indeed, prayer was a major theme of the service, including reference to the 24/7 prayer initiative and an emphasis on the need for personal prayer to anchor individuals in a life of faith.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: A Covenant Prayer on board the Nomadic
Rev Chris Bennett welcomed us to the monthly Dock Church service on the Nomadic and invited us to wish one another a happy new year. Chris then advised there was a flood warning for the Titanic Quarter!
Chris reminded us of the 24/7 prayer initiative taking place in the diocese of Down and Dromore, which had started in the Dock cafe. He also gave some details of the different stations in the cafe.
We then sang the opening hymns – “I hear the Saviour say” and “Bless The Lord my soul,” before Chris opened with a prayer which referred to handing over all we have to The Lord.
The overall theme was “covenant prayer.”
Chris then handed over to Rev Karen Spence, the Methodist chaplain to Titanic Quarter, who explained a background to the covenant prayer andthe covenant service.
The emphasis in the service is grace. God acts and we respond. God invites us into adventure.
After that, Jeremy taught us a new song – “I am forever yours” which included the words:
“Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
Love came down and rescued me”.
It was then the turn of Rev Colin Davis from the parish of Carrowdore and Millisle, who spoke on the covenant prayer and the level of commitment involved.
He connected this to the visit of the magi to the infant Jesus: It was a long journey to visit Jesus and took a lot of commitment to find out about the child. He also connected this to parish and the effort involved to get people to do things. We struggle with keeping going and we are burdened with all kinds of thoughts, such as what’s going to happen tomorrow?
Colin suggested that it didn’t get more serious than the covenant prayer. I prompts us to keep going – to point to Christ. That way when people see me – they see something for the kingdom of God. We have no idea what the year will hold but we trust.
Then it was the turn of Cath, one of the musicians, to speak. She shared her personal story and the challenges she faced, centred round the demands of Christian ministry, God’s grace in the every day, being grateful for the journey and the power of praying the prayer. The path to wholeness means being taken apart and rebuilt again.
These reflections were followed by a short time of quiet – “to dwell in the presence of God.” We concluded by singing !All to Jesus I surrender” and “Blessed assurance”.
(Image: cross made by artist Wesley for the Dock cafe. As explained on the Dock website: “It’s made from bits of shipyard metal he found around the Titanic Quarter – old and new, creativity and Christianity blending in one unique piece of art. Perfectly Dock!”)