I have to admit a bad case of green with envy came over me when I read Adam Hamilton‘s latest e-mail to his congregation:
I’m writing from Epworth, a small village in northern England where John Wesley was born, raised and where he served his first church as a pastor alongside his father. I’ve had a terrific time this week exploring places that were important in the beginnings of Methodism in the 18th century. Today I stood at the baptismal font where Wesley was baptized by his father in 1703, and held the communion cup used by Wesley’s father for 30 years, and used by John Wesley himself when he was an assistant to his father. The church itself was built in the 1100’s. I’ll take you there this weekend via video in worship.
I’ve posted a few pics on Facebook [www.facebook.com/PastorAdamHamilton] from the first couple of days in London at the home Wesley lived in during the last 12 years of his life, and from our last two days in Oxford where Wesley spent 15 years, first as a college student, and then as a professor (fellow) at Oxford. It was at Oxford that Methodism had its beginning, as Wesley mentored college students who were seeking to live “devout and holy lives.”
This is something only the preachers on my enote list will fully appreciate: in London I had the chance to speak from the pulpit of the Wesley Chapel where John Wesley preached during the latter years of his life. In Oxford I had the chance to preach a bit from the pulpit at the St. Mary’s Church where Wesley preached one of his most famous sermons, The Almost Christian. I was actually teaching from the pulpit as we were recording a video for the study we’ll release next year on Methodism. While teaching I preached short selections of Wesley’s final sermon in St. Mary’s (this was the Oxford University church) that so offended his fellow faculty that he was never invited back again.
We’ll spend the next two days in Bristol, the port city that played a key part in the development of Methodism. While I love history, my real aim on this trip, and in the sermons I’ll preach this fall and the study we’ll release next year, is to see how the faith and practices of those early Methodists might still speak to us today. So much of the approach taken by them is a part of what most of our members say drew them to Resurrection: an emphasis on both a deeply personal faith and a faith that calls us to serve others; an open and generous spirit coupled with a call to seek to live lives that please God; an emphasis on a faith that speaks to both the head and the heart.