Strangely Warmed

Pentecost and the Future of the Methodist Movement

Acts 2:1-21

flame

Photo credit by Scharx on Deviant Art: http://scharx.deviantart.com/art/Flame-on-Fire-280535683

There are weeks in the life of a preacher where a lot of things come together at once that seem like an intentional convergence that requires some comment. This was one of those weeks. Yesterday, for example, we had the convergence of three holidays—two that you may be familiar with and one that you may not. It was the Sunday before Memorial Day, of course, when we remember those who have fallen in service to our country, but on the church calendar it was also the Sunday of Pentecost, the festival in which we remember the day the Holy Spirit came upon the early church in Acts 2—an event that many consider to be the “birthday” of the church.

But May 24 is also a Methodist holiday specifically. We call it Aldersgate Day, the anniversary of John Wesley’s conversion from a troubled Anglican priest to the founder of the Methodist movement, one of the greatest movements in Christian history. It was on May 24, 1738, that Wesley went to a meeting on Aldersgate Street in London; this after returning from a failed missionary venture in the colony of Georgia that ended with Wesley feeling like a spiritual and clerical failure. Wesley wrote in his journal that day:

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The Finish Line – Jesus Trail Day 5

Our apartment at the Shavit Family Guesthouse in Moshav Arbel (highly recommended!)

Our apartment at the Shavit Family Guesthouse in Moshav Arbel (highly recommended!)

We began our last day of hiking with a marvelous breakfast at the Shavit family guest house featuring some of the cheese and fruit that they grow right there in the Moshav (a different sort of collective than a kibbutz). It was tasty and plentiful and fueled us up for what promised to be a long day.

The view from the top of Mount Arbel

The view from the top of Mount Arbel

The first part of the hike was a climb up Mount Arbel and into the national park where we said goodbye to Berndt and Edith, our German hiking compatriots who were heading back early to Tel Aviv. The view from atop Mount Arbel is stunning and vertigo-inducing if you’re afraid of heights, but it is most certainly not a regular route that Jesus would have taken. Indeed, like much of the route from Cana onward it seems like the trail loops around the natural routes and takes you to the most arduous climbs and descents possible–like, maybe the route Jesus would have taken had he had too much wine at the wedding of Cana.

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Signs of War and Peace – Jesus Trail Day 4

The Horns of Hattin. The fields in front are where the battle most likely took place

The Horns of Hattin. The fields in front are where the battle most likely took place

After a restful night at Kibbutz Lavi, we traveled on the way to Arvel via the Horns of Hattin. The Horns are the remnants of an old volcano crater and were the scene of the practical end of the Crusaders’ quest to conquer Palestine once and for all. Continue reading →

All Roads Lead to Rome – Jesus Trail Day 3

The remnants of the Via Maris

The remnants of the Via Maris

If you were to travel anywhere around the Mediterranean world in the first century, there’s a pretty good chance you’d have done it on one of the roads constructed by Rome for the purpose of moving both the Roman Army and the trade goods that were the life blood of the empire. These meticulously constructed roads were the marvels of the age, so much so that they still exist in good order in some places.

One of the main roads in the eastern part of the empire was the Via Maris or “The Way of the Sea.” Stretching from Mesopotamia to Egypt, this ancient route was like an interstate superhighway in the days of Jesus, and of all the places we’ve walked over the last couple of days, the Via Maris is one of the most likely to have felt his footfalls on the way to and from Galilee back home to Nazareth.

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Finding Our Way – The Jesus Trail – Day 2

Checking my Twitter feed after dinner yesterday I was reminded that Rush kicked off their 40th anniversary-pretty-much-last tour last night in Tulsa. I’ll be seeing them in July when they make their final stop in Denver, and while I don’t know what the set list looks like, one of the songs that came to mind as we set out on our hike today was “Finding My Way:”

I’ve been gone too long,

I’ve lost count of the years.

Well I sang some sad songs,

and I cried some bad tears.

Feels like forever since I’ve been home even though it’s not been two weeks yet, and while we haven’t been singing bad songs or crying bad tears, we did spend the day trying to figure out how to find our way in the midst of an often-confusing, somewhat taxing, and thoroughly interesting hike.

Some of the hike out of Nazareth.

Some of the hike out of Nazareth.

We left Nazareth at about 8:00 in the morning with the first part of the hike consisting of a serious climb to the top of the city before descending down into a valley. The “trail” at this point is actually more like an exercise in “find the blazes”–those orange and white painted marks on telephone poles, rocks, and the occasional bus stop that show the way of the Jesus trail. We had a guide with us on the first part of the hike, which was helpful since some of those blazes were creatively placed.

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