Thursday, December 10, 2009

Five things I love about Methodism

Good morning God,

Micky, Dave and Richard, are all pointing to The Road to Elder-ado: 5 things I love about Methodists. In her post however, Micky also raises the challenge: So - go on then, why do you love Methodism?

So here's my response:

Five things I love about Methodism

1. Evangelical Arminianism
The amazing news that you are not the God of the elect few but are the God of the poor and the God of the ruling classes, chattering classes, (even Methodist classes) needs to be shouted out in a country where Church is still equated primarily with the ageing white (respectable) middle-classes. Such news just has to be shared, how can we keep it to ourselves? Wherever this truth is understood it leads to passionate preaching - in some peculiar places, throughout the whole world: outdoors, indoors, in graveyards, on hilltops, in tent meetings, cafes, basements, market-squares, gyms, at the sea side, in city halls, and on top of plinths! Oh.. and sometimes in Churches too!

2. Social Holiness

Without social justice the church simply makes a liar and a hypocrite of you and your love of us God. You cared enough about us to get down and get mucky – how can we do less and still claim to be your disciples? Methodists don’t believe salvation can be earned by good deeds, but neither do they believe that someone can be saved and not respond to your call to help end the injustice, ignorance, hatred and fear that still enslaves and demeans your creation.

3. Growth in grace

Salvation is just the start of it..
There’s more… !
No matter how ‘good’ we think we are,
No matter how ‘good’ our knowledge of Scripture or theology is
no matter how ‘good’ our relationship with you is God,
The more we respond to your grace – the more grace abounds
It just keeps getting better…
Sanctification – here we come…

4. Worship
Extempore prayer, high quality preaching, and the best hymns in Christendom – what’s not to like?

5. Connexionalism

Not to be confused with what is termed ‘The Connexion’ and never to be reduced to a team, Connexionalism is the Methodist way of being Church.
Using the circuit as the centre for local mission and the Conference as the centre for national Conferring, Connexionalism (spelt with an X to represent the Cross at the centre of our belonging) allows us to express our equality before you and our assent to our common calling: it promotes and resources our mission and diversity by actively encouraging our non-conformity! It's quirky and problematic at times, its a disabled body rather than a perfect magisterium, but that's what makes it work so well - it keeps us dependent on your grace for our survival rather than on a bishop or two, (or even a whole house of them). It is how you have bound us together in love.

Ok.. I KNOW this might read like an ideal image of Methodism. It's true that it varies from place to place.. but the things that I love are still recognisable in more places than people might think. From the work I do in ministerial training for example, I know that there is a real hunger in those you are calling to minister to be allowed to BE Methodist. It's also possible to detect an increasing longing amongst the membership for Methodists to rediscover their own identity and practices.

Maybe you haven't finished with us yet God.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. Wonderful. I am a UMC pastor from the USA and I stumbled across this. Would you mind if I put it on my blog? Shared it with my church?