This is for the back page of the 22 October 2017 (20th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A) Fishkill UMC bulletin.
I once wrote that if John Wesley were alive today, he would be very old (“Seeing The Trees For The Forest”). I also noted that I thought he would be fascinated by today’s technology and looking for ways to use that technology to better spread the Gospel message. Because that is what his mission was, I think he would also be very angry at those people who call themselves Methodists.
John Wesley was an anachronism. He believed in rules (which is, in part, why we have the Book of Discipline) but he also saw that rules by themselves could not bring the change he sought. Still, until he fully accepted Christ at Aldersgate, his legalistic style of religion was failing. But after Aldersgate, things changed.
When Methodism began in England, England was on the verge of the same bloody revolution that had just swept across France. But because of the work of the early Methodists, there was no bloody revolution. Methodists reached across the lines drawn by society and brought the Gospel message to the people in word and deed, alleviating much of the pain and suffering the lower classes endured.
There were those who did not like the Methodist success; those who lived in this country were barred from preaching in the accepted state churches. Those barriers forced the Methodists to go “outside the box” and find ways to bring the Gospel message to the people. But, in doing that, they opened the doors for the Methodist message to reach even more people.
We have inherited the title of “outsider”, of continuing a faith tradition that goes beyond the boundaries of society and law, of bringing people to Christ no matter where they might be by our words, our deeds, our thoughts, and our actions. ~~Tony Mitchell