For some time, I have been writing some thoughts that my church (Fishkill United Methodist Church) puts on the back page . Here are my thoughts for this Sunday, 19 February 2017, the 7th Sunday after the Epiphany (Year A).
Have you ever wondered why we are “the people called United Methodists?” The “United” comes, of course, from the 1968 merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches but the “Methodist” part is a little bit older. In 1729, Charles Wesley and some of his college friends started what they called the “Holy Club”. John Wesley joined shortly after and became its leader. The goal of this group was to achieve salvation through a rigorous and legalistic approach to faith. Because of this approach, others would ridicule them by calling them “Methodists”.
Yet, until that time that we have come to call Aldersgate, the plan was a failure. Yes, things were accomplished that helped others but there was still a feeling that success and accomplishment was lacking. The plan was not working.
But when one creates a set of laws, one must be careful that you are not setting the conditions that imprison you.
The focus of today’s Old Testament reading is not about a legal structure for a community but on the relationship between the members of the community. The Israelites were counseled to leave something behind when they harvested the crops so that there would be something for everyone. It was important that the Israelites see everyone as part of their community and that they treat everyone fairly.
We leave room for dessert because we want a complete meal. Our relationship with Christ can never be complete if we do not share it with others.