Hope you all are doing well, just wanted to share with you all a little bit about another blessed and my favourite person. On Tuesday, 24th May 2022 according to the church calendar we celebrated John and Charles Wesley, Evangelists, and Hymn writers.
John Wesley started out as an Anglican priest, but later went on to found the Methodist Movement. The moment he identified as his conversion came on 28 May 1738, when he was at a Moravian service. He has been feeling unhappy and unfulfilled for some time and even going to church had become a chore. This is how he described the moment when that changed: In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ," I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." From then on, Wesley preached a message of personal salvation by faith, focusing on the fact that God’s grace is a free gift and is given to all of us.
Friends, it’s interesting that Wesley had been a priest for some years before he had this personal experience of God’s love. Maybe some of us identify with that: we may have been church—goers all our lives, we may have heard hundreds of sermons and sung hundreds of hymns, but until that moment when God touches us personally, our faith comes at second hand.
We believe it because we have been told to, not because it has penetrated our hearts. For some of us, that moment of conversion is dramatic. St Paul experienced a flash of light from heaven that knocked him to the ground and blinded him for several days on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–19). But most of us—perhaps fortunately—don’t experience anything so dramatic. Faith may come to us as a ‘still, small voice of calm’ (1 Kings 19:11–13). Our hearts are ‘strangely warmed’, and we simply understand, without intellectual acrobatics, that God loves us and that his grace is free for all of us. These moments of awareness of God’s grace don’t come all the time: they are there to keep us going when things are tough and to remind us of the heaven which is our goal.
They are often to be found in the small things: the joy of a baby’s antics, the colour of a beautiful flower, a sunset, a card from someone who loves us, laughter with friends. We need to look out for them and recognise them for what they are and use them to feed our faith and keep us enduring until the end.
R.S. Thomas’ poem The Bright Field sums it up beautifully, so here it is:
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give up all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once but is the eternity that awaits you.
God of mercy, who inspired John and Charles Wesley with zeal for your gospel: grand to all people boldness to proclaim your word and a heart ever to rejoice in singing your praises. Amen.
Have a blessed day.
Rev Kathreen Shahbaz