Here is the “back page” for the Fishkill UMC bulletin for this coming Sunday, 8 October 2017, the 18th Sunday after Pentecost (Year A).
No, I am not talking about the board game of Life, where you moved through life, overcome obstacles and gaining credits until you reached a wonderful ending. But there are rules by which we live and there are the rules that others seek to impose on us.
As Saul, Paul was determined to do just that, force others to live by a set of imposed rules. The openness of “The Way” (as the new Christian movement was then called) was anathema to the rigid, rule-driven religion that Saul followed.
But Saul found a new set of rules when his life as a persecutor was interrupted and his new life as Paul began. Paul understood that the rigidity of rules stifled life, not encouraged it. It was the initial rigidity of Methodism that caused John Wesley to have an immense sense of failure. When Wesley accepted the Holy Spirit at Aldersgate, the world-changing movement known as the Methodist Revival began.
We can be like the workers of the vineyard, bound and determined to do it our own way, by refusing to accept the Holy Spirit into our lives. And in doing so, we doom ourselves to failure, even though we are certain we are following the rules.
But a rigid set of rules does not give us the Freedom we seek. A rigid set of rules only limits us. But there is that one moment in our life, our Aldersgate or our place on the road to Damascus, where we encounter the Holy Spirit and find our Freedom.
It was this Freedom, that empowerment by the Holy Spirit, that gave the Methodist Revival the ability to change the world. Our Freedom is found in Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
And that is the one rule of life.
~~ Tony Mitchell