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Methodical Faith

March 2, 2021

“And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:11-12

Today the church commemorates John and Charles Wesley, renewers of the church. These brothers were leaders of a revival movement within the Church of England in the eighteenth century. After a brief time in the Georgia (still a colony at that time), they returned to England and, within three days of each other, each had a religious experience. John was listening a reading of Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans when he felt his heart strangely warmed.

John and Charles focused on renewing the church through spiritual disciplines, or methods: frequent Holy Communion, fasting, and advocacy for the poor. They believed in evangelism as a core Christian practice, endorsing lay preaching and open-air worship. While they did not desire for their Methodist Societies to be more than a renewal movement within the Church of England, after their deaths these societies would develop into the Methodist Church (something to which Lutherans can surely relate as Luther set out simply to reform the Roman Catholic Church).

While there are key differences between Methodists and Lutherans (perhaps most notably the former’s embrace of Arminianism), we surely have much to learn from them, too Their commitment to evangelism and praise is a witness to us all. And, without them, we would never have had a Wesleyan Quadrilateral. More to the point, our hymnody would be greatly diminished. Charles wrote over 6,500 hymns (!) in his life, including one sung at our wedding, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.” In Charles’s words, the church sings:

Finish then thy new creation,
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation
Perfectly revealed in thee!
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise!

May God bless our Methodist siblings in Christ.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

We praise you, O God, our Creator and Redeemer. We thank you for the witness of those who have gone before us, especially Charles and John. May we, inspired by their witness, spread your name and sing your praise. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: The “Lily Portrait” of Charles Wesley, often attributed to Thomas Hudson, 1749 (public domain).

From → COVID-19

One Comment
  1. Irmgard Swanson permalink

    What is Arminianism? Thanks for this information about the Wesley brothers. I did not know all of their background. BTW – “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” is one of my favorite hymns.

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