Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday Message: Methodism = Heart + Head

Scriptures:  2 Timothy 1:6-14; Phil 4:8; Col 3:23-24

You can read these Scriptures here:  NIV

 

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Mistake in last week’s slides. Oliver Cromwell was born 1599 (not 1533) and died 1658

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Last week we looked at the world in which the concept of Methodism started. We saw that 18th century England was divided along spiritual and political lines: arguments between High Church Anglicans and Low Church Puritans were bitter, and divisions ran deep. Arguments were vicious and blood was shed both on and off the battlefield over these arguments.

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John Wesley had roots on both sides of the aisle: his grandparents were puritans, while his parents were High Church Anglicans. John Wesley understood that our faith will be stronger and more productive (“Go make disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world”) if we build bridges of cooperation instead of calling each other names and building walls of separation.

There are many parallels between the present and the times when the concept of Methodism was conceived.

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In John Wesley’s world we had Tories and Wigs. In our world we have Republicans and Democrats.

In John Wesley’s world we had Puritans and Anglicans. In our world we have Fundamentalists and Progressives, Liberals and Conservatives. We often do not hesitate to use incinerating rhetoric to describe others; all we have to do is listen to talk radio or watch Fox News or CNN. All sides are guilty.

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Today I want to talk about the characteristics of the Methodist revival that spread like the wildfire of the Holy Spirit all around the globe. I want to talk about it because it is my hope that all of us {1} can glean a little something about what it means to be a Methodist, {2} how each of us can live out our faith and devotion to God in our daily lives, and {3} how we as Christ United Methodist Church can fulfill the Great Commission of making disiciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

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John Wesley was raised as a High Church Anglican. As a young man, when John Wesley thought of worship it was in the context of ritual. He thought about vestments and prescribed prayers and all that was prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer for each day of the year. That is not a statement of derision or ridicule on my part. We need rituals and traditions, we need things that are habitual and to some extent routine in our worship; things that we do and recognize each time that we worship.

Young John Wesley was also a professor of Philosophy and Greek in Lincoln College in Oxford England. He was very much interested in the sciences and in logical / reasonable explanations of the world as we know it. We can safely say that John Wesley’s faith lived in his head.

{Illustration from John Wesley’s Life}

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That changed on Wednesday, May 24, 1738. This is how John Wesley described the events of that evening in his journal:

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“In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

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For many of us, when we think about a revival, we think about inspiring preaching and singing and emotionally charged worship. I’ve been through many of those and they are wonderful. I also know that there is a difference between an emotional high and a revival.

The goal of a revival is not an emotional high; the goal of a revival service is transformed lives. I think of a revival as a Divine heart transplant in the life of a community or an individual.

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That is what happened that evening on Aldersgate Street in London for John Wesley. He had a “Divine heart transplant” that changed his understanding of what it means to be a devout Christian; he understood the concept of God’s Grace not only with his head but also with his heart.

All of a sudden his faith lived not only in his head, but also in his heart. All of a sudden there was a resonance, a connection, between Wesley’s head and heart when it came to the matters of faith. The events of that evening and that resonance were the source of a revival that took the world by storm. Partly because of that resonance and that connection someone thought it important to tell you about their faith in God and how their faith brings meaning to their lives. And who among us has not felt their hearts warmed by the presence of the Holy at one time or another.

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Methodism integrates mind and heart. That integration is a part of what it means to be a Methodist; it is our shared understanding of God’s presence. That is of utmost importance in the culture of USAmerica today because we have so many people in our society who are nominal Christians, and because we have a growing segment of our society who make the choice to live as atheists or agnostics.

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Atheists are persons who make a conscious decision that they do not believe in the existence of God. Agnostics, on the other hand, neither believe nor disbelieve in the existence of God. Agnostics assert that it’s impossible for human beings to know anything about how the universe was created and whether there is God.

Nominal Christians are our neighbors who believe themselves to be Christians and who come to church a couple of times every year; sometimes they are called Easter and Christmas Christians, they believe that there lived a righteous man named Jesus and they try to live pretty good lives, to be productive members of society and good citizens of their country, they try to do what is right and they try to live their lives in a such a way that is true and beautiful and does not hurt their neighbors.

We, a community of Christian sisters and brothers must learn how deliver the message of God’s love, forgiveness and grace to in the face of that indifference. We, a community of Christian sisters and brothers must learn how to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in the face of that indifference from nominal Christians, from the agnostics and from the atheists. In that environment we need Christians who can make a good, well thought out case for what it means to be a Christian in our day and age. In that environment we need Christians who can demonstrate how a committed relationship with Jesus helps them to deal with their daily lives. In that environment we need believers who can connect the faith of the heart with the intellect so that a non-religious person or a nominal Christian can hear them and say, “It make sense to me. Tell me more about Jesus because you explain your faith in such a way that I can understand and I also can relate to it.”

Next week we will look more closely at what we can do. And now let’s look at some scriptures that go along with today’s message.

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1 Peter 1:13-15 NIV2010 BE HOLY

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober [NRSV: “prepare your mind for action”], set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; ….

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In a reading from 2 Timothy 1:7 – 8, 13 we’ve heard

7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord … . 13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

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Colossians 3:23 NIV2010

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, …

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1 Corinthians 10:31-33 NIV2010

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble … . 33 … For I [Paul] am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

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2 responses to “Approximate Notes for Sunday Message: Methodism = Heart + Head

  1. Pingback: Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; 22-September-2013 | Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

  2. Pingback: Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; 22-September-2013 | Christ United Methodist Church in Chestertown, MD

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