01/01/12 From the ministers treadmill. Not that I have over done it you understand but ...
I wonder what was high on your agenda last year, I am pleased to say that for a number of folk reading the bible regularly was the year’s Christian event. Last year many people took on the challenge of reading scripture for the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. A number of events, celebrations and programs backed up the birthday. I myself preached on the E 100 challenge over a twenty week period at the beginning of the year. This led us through an overview of the Bible. I hope people found the personal reading plan a good discipline to follow, it certainly got people talking.
But what will you do this year personally and spiritually to grow. We all know those dark shadows cast by broken resolutions from previous years . The language not learnt, the fitness not achieved, the degree not secured and the bathroom not painted. All these failings cry out in January as we dare to plan for this year. Perhaps we’re not so fussed if we don’t have a deeper prayer life or a new fruit of the Spirit. Many of us don’t ache to improve our discipleship as our forebears did.
John Wesley the founder of the Methodist Church was an incredible man. I am not give to quoting his journal at every turn unlike some but he is an inspiration. He longed to serve God and to grow as a disciple. Even before he really found faith he wanted to witness to others at home and abroad. Throughout his life he endeavoured for growth and holiness. In his 80th year he said ‘Repose is not for me in this world’. Interestingly it was at this time that Wesley’s concern for wealth resurfaced. But this was no desire for personal and financial gain. This was concern for wealth destroying the soul. His teaching on abstinence, the virtues of industry and thrift had brought wealth to many. His mantra had always been, ‘Earn all you can; save all you can; give all you can’. Some of his followers had found the last point harder to enact than Wesley himself. So his three point sermons at this time majored more on this last point.
As tents waft in the breeze outside our cathedrals; England sits off the Coast of Europe having used the veto and dept counselling goes through the roof I can’t imagine why the above should seem appropriate at this moment. Prayer, reasonable giving, church growth and better witness may not be fully conquered in the next twelve months but if attempts are not made to grapple with these elements of discipleship then we will be the poorer.
In a time of cuts, austerity and uncertainty I think perhaps Mr Wesley should be quoted a little more. The fact we didn’t quote him earlier is a mistake we are all living to regret.
Happy New Year.