All posts in John Wesley

From Almost to Altogether

A sermon given at the Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Camp Meeting on August 7, 2016

Text: Mark 12:28-34

campmeeting4Well, our Camp Meeting day has finally arrived. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time, and though we’re only here for the day, our history tells us that gathering in the outdoors for worship is actually one of the most Methodist things we could possibly do.

In 1739, John Wesley took to the fields of England to begin preaching to common people. That was very unusual at a time when “proper” preaching was only considered to have taken place if it happened inside a church. But at the invitation of his friend George Whitefield, Wesley “submitted to be more vile” and, on April 2, 1739, preached to about 3,000 people near Bristol and some 4,000 more the next day—all this without the aid of microphones—just a clear voice filled with conviction.

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Wesley’s Rules for Money: Save All You Can

Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 25:14-30

talentSo, here’s another parable featuring money which indicates Jesus’ concern over its use or misuse, though this parable actually fits within the larger context of preparing for the coming kingdom of God. It’s sandwiched between the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids and Jesus’ warning about the judgment of the nations. The overarching question of this section is this: will you be ready when the Master returns?

Here again, like last week, we have a wealthy man who leaves his wealth in charge of three servants. The “talents” here are large sums of money—one being worth several years of wages. Two of the servants take the talents given to them and invest them in ways that bring a huge return (imagine, for example, what kind of investment it would take today to double the money). The third servant, however, is more risk adverse and buries the talent in the ground—he didn’t even put it in a savings account to earn that .02% interest they’re giving us today. The moral of the story for Jesus? Will you take the risk of investing the master’s resources in ways that benefit his estate, or will you choose a scarcity mentality and simply sit on it or, perhaps worse, invest it in assuaging your own fears and desires? What will we do with the things God has given us to manage?

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Wesley’s Rules for Money: Earn All You Can

Luke 16:1-13

parable-of-the-dishonest-stewardThis has to be the weirdest of Jesus’ parables. Everything seems backwards—a “dishonest” manager is commended? The children of this world are more clever in dealing with their peers than “the people of light” (i.e. God’s people)? Use worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves? It’s no wonder that a lot of preachers leave this one alone.

John Wesley did not, however. In fact, he made this text the basis for his sermon “On the Use of Money,” and when we dive into the parable a little more closely we can see why, especially when it comes to our topic today—Wesley’s first rule on the use of money: “Earn all you can.”

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Fleeing from the Wrath to Come

Part VI of “The End of the World as We Know It: The Book of Revelation”

Revelation 16; Matthew 3:1-10

general rulesWhen you join the United Methodist Church, you are asked a series of questions in the baptismal liturgy like, “Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?” and “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” These are good questions, thoughtful questions, but they are also fairly easy questions to answer in the affirmative (I’ve never had anyone say, “No, I actually embrace evil” when I’ve asked them the questions!). After all, we can cognitively understand that rejecting evil and resisting it is a good thing—it’s something even our government wants to do, though more with weapons than with worship.

But if you were to join one of the early Methodist societies started by the Wesley brothers, the first question you would be asked was quite different—one that is less about our ability to resist evil than about God’s ability to deal with it. As John Wesley put it at the beginning of the General Rules of the United Societies:

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Finishing Well

2 Timothy 4:1-8

New_York_marathon_Verrazano_bridgeThe starting gun for the New York City Marathon fired on Sunday of this week as runners from around the world began the 26.2-mile race through the streets of the five boroughs. Some of the runners left the starting line in search of the prize while others will consider a respectable finish (or any finish) to be a great accomplishment.

But while running a marathon is still a popular bucket list item for many people, other regular marathoners believe that running such a long horizontal distance again and again over time can really beat up the body, not to mention the fact that logging mile after mile on the course can get kind of monotonous. An increasing number of those runners, in fact, are becoming less interested in hoofing it through the streets and more interested in the buildings that tower over them — buildings that contain miles of stairs within their dizzying heights.

Welcome to the sport of professional stair climbing.

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