Pastor’s Corner

June 2024

Greetings Church!

I noticed that “Heritage Sunday” was May 19th and that John Wesley’s birthday is June 28th. So, I thought I would share some thought’s, about Methodist Heritage, this led to more information than one column could hold, so this is part one, I’ll finish up in July. Our name “Methodist”, I would remind you that the term or name “Methodist” was referring to John and Charles Wesley, and others in the “Holy Club” at Oxford university (Christ’s Church). They were referred to as “Methodists” by the Oxford community, due to their approach to Scriptural studies and regular attendance at meetings, and was meant to be a derogatory term.

On May 24th, 1738 , as Reverend John Wesley attended a group meeting on Aldersgate Street in London, his heart was “strangely warmed,” and he experienced the assurance of salvation. In celebrating our “Heritage”, we remember the past by committing ourselves to God’s continuing call on our lives.

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”
~2 Corinthians 12:9b the Message

What sets John Wesley apart from other theologians is his approach to God’s grace, he presents grace in threefold manor; “Prevenient, Justifying and Perfecting”.

Prevenient Grace is grace that is sustaining and invitational in nature, it is available for all (think universal) including those who have never heard of or known Jesus, or that may believe in other gods or no god at all. A key here is that “pre” is indicative to the nature of this grace; it is “before” it is given or proceeding from God before creation, it is grace that exists in our life before we are born. Prevenient Grace is before us, with us and continues after us (for infinity).

Justifying Grace can be thought of as the acceptance of God’s grace or our “Awakening”. We are awakened at the acknowledgement of our sin and our dependence on God’s grace to restore the right relationship between us and God. Often on the heels of our awakening is “repentance”, acknowledging our failure, our sin, our inability to help ourselves, and asking for our forgiveness. Remember that our “Justification” starts with our free choice, with our faith in Jesus Christ, the work of atonement, it is the acceptance of the unmerited gift of God’s grace, expressed in our faith in Christ. It is our acknowledgement that we are powerless (unable) to save ourselves, aside from accepting the gift of God’s grace.

Perfecting or Sanctification Grace can be simply stated as, we are being made holy, being conformed to the likeness of God, learning to love God and each other by the grace and love of God. Wesley was convinced that our obedience to God, must spring from our love of God and others, and that we can only have such love in response to our awareness of God’s love for us.

An often-repeated Methodist analogy for grace is: “if prevenient grace is the porch of the house of grace and justifying grace is the doorway, sanctifying grace represents the rooms in the expansive dwelling of God’s presence with and purposes for humanity.

Wesley affirmed that God’s grace seeks nothing less than a new creation in the likeness of Jesus Christ.” “Grace for Wesley [was] the pardoning, transforming love of God, present to us in the indwelling Person of the Holy Spirit.” (Maddox) The Book of Discipline defines grace as “the undeserved, unmerited, and loving action of God in human existence through the ever-present Holy Spirit.” (TBD q102, 2016)

We cannot earn our way to heaven with “good works”. Our Wesleyan heritage points to our “good works” as a faithful response to God’s grace in our lives.

Blessings …
Pastor Scott

BTW

June is often thought of as “Graduation” time … let us take the time to congratulate those who have done the work, and are now taking the next step in their lives!

P.S. I have recently been reminded that I was going to do some reading … June is also thought of as the beginning of summer, so my personal plan is to be intentional in spending some time reading, throughout the summer “vacation” time. What about you, is there something you have been trying to do? This would be a great time to put your plans into motion.
Pastor Scott