I only required my confirmation classes to memorize one date–May 24, 1738, Aldersgate Day. That’s the day John Wesley went to a meeting on Aldersgate Street and in the midst of the gathering, he said, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I knew that I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and freed me from the law of sin and death.”
His brother Charles had a similar experience three days earlier and while John took the lead in the preaching, Charles went to work writing over 6,000 hymns. Some of them have become global classics, like “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. Others are less well-known, but I guess when you are that prolific, you are allowed a few bloopers. Last week Queen Elizabeth’s funeral included the Wesley hymn “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” sung to a favorite British tune which doesn’t appear in the United Methodist hymnal. (See the video attached.)
Friends in England recently shared a Wesley hymn they used in their wedding entitled “Thou God of Truth and Love.” In the light of the splintering going on in United Methodism today, this verse stood out:
Didst thou not make us one, that we might one remain,
Together travel on, and share our joy and pain,
Till all thy utmost goodness prove, and rise renewed in perfect love?
Tragically, we United Methodists seem to have lost sight of that vision of oneness as the folks who want to “disaffiliate” have begun doing so. I hope the continuing United Methodist Church will take seriously what it means to be made one in Christ and to travel on in truth and love. Because after all, that’s what it means to be the Body of Christ.
On Oct. 2 and 9, I will be preaching at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Beulah. Join us in person or on line: www.benziestandrews.com