I have been pondering the word primary. Today is the New Hampshire primary in preparation for the 2012 presidential elections. There have been numerous debates in which the candidate’s position themselves and try to get more votes, to become the “primary” candidate for their party.
I have been fascinated by the candidates from the same party, supposedly with the same values, attempting to discredit and marginalize the others in the same party. Not only is it fascinating, it reminds me how similar it is to the life of the Church and for those who claim the name Christian.
Individuals and churches work to distinguish themselves from each other. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. People have preferences in terms of style of worship, translation of the Bible and what kinds of programs are offered for members of their families.
What becomes problematic for me, is the way that human beings tear each other apart, insult and demonize each other in order to be on top, in order to be primary. Churches, Christians and politicians often split hairs in order to come out on top, in order to prove they are “right” and to make their opponent “wrong”. It angers me and it saddens me.
In my tradition of the United Methodist Church, January is often the time to recite John Wesley’s “Covenant Prayer.” The prayer written around 1780 follows:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
This prayer, makes clear, for me at least what is really primary, my relationship with the Divine. Not what I want, but what God has in store for me. It is a hard sell in our culture and society. And yet, for followers of Christ, it has always been so. And what is primary is love of God and neighbor.
What is hardest for me, is to remember that. It is not important for me to be “right” or “primary” or to come out on top. What is primary is to love God and to love others and to make that real in all I say and do.
So once again, I recommit and re-covenant to allow God to be primary in my life, in my words and in my actions. And “freely and heartily yielding all things to God” I am
Graced to Serve.