When I started writing this blog many years ago, I was a lay person trying to come to grips with what this person John Wesley had written and taught. I had discovered in our Book of Discipline the important place his sermons and ministry had in the formation of the people called Methodist and wanted to discover the roots from which our movement had sprung.
I’ve not been writing much the last couple of years for a variety of personal and professional reasons.
If the Board of Ordained Ministry agrees this March, I will be ordained an elder in full connection in the United Methodist Church – a church that may be formally coming apart at the seams by the time it is my turn to kneel beneath the hands of the bishop in June.
It is a curious time to be a United Methodist.
And so, I find myself needing to return to the foundations of our theology and doctrine. As our church breaks apart around us, now more than ever we Methodists need to remember what the Holy Spirit did when he lifted up and empowered this small band of Christians nearly 300 years ago.
I am not – of course – arguing that Wesley has a more important role in our movement than the Bible. That is the true source and foundation of our belief and practice. But we Methodists are a movement within the larger body of Christ that was lifted up for a reason.
Perhaps that reason has run its course and what Methodism needs to do is recede back, like an island sinking back beneath the sea. That may be the case and it may be our destiny. But I’m not convinced that is so.
Because of this, I am going back to the sources. Over the next few months, I am making a personal commitment to revisit my old mentor and teacher, John Wesley. I want to read those sermons again and see how they speak to me now. I’m not sure exactly what I will discover or if I will have anything interesting to say, but it feels like a fitting thing to be doing as the church is shaking apart and I will be faced with a choice of where and how to carry on this movement in a new denomination.
I will close this post with the quotation that has given this blog its subtitle for these many years and serves as a touchstone for all that is to come in Wesley’s sermons.
I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: Just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing, — the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God!