Here are my thoughts for the “Back Page” of the bulletin at Fishkill UMC for this coming Sunday, May 19, 2019 (5th Sunday of Easter, Year C)
In August, 1739, John Wesley went to Bristol, England to begin a Methodist revival.
Joseph Butler, the Bishop of the Anglican Church in Bristol and an adherent to orthodox preaching (i.e., the rule of law) told him,
“You have no business here. You are not commissioned to preach in this diocese. Therefore, I advise you to go hence.”
“My lord, my business on earth is do what good I can. Wherever, therefore I think I can do most good, there must I stay so long as I think so. At present I think I can –do most good here. Therefore, here I stay.”
As a graduate of Lincoln College, Oxford, Wesley had a commission to preach the Gospel anywhere in England. To preach in Bristol did not, in his mind, break any human law. He also understood that if he adhered to the orthodox and traditional view of preaching, he could not offer Christ outside the church walls.
We again hear the cry of the those who seek the church in orthodox and legalistic ways. But as the inheritors of the Methodist Revival, are we not the inheritors of the unorthodox and irregular. Shall we stay safe inside the walls of our sanctuary or trust, as did Wesley, that He will be there when we go into the country?