West Chelmsford United Methodist Church
Saturday, July 30, 2016
On Sunday, May 22 at the 9:30 service we celebrated United Methodist Heritage Day – also called Aldersgate Day. (The 11:00 service that day was our Baccalaureate Service – congratulations graduates!) May 22 was the closest Sunday to May 24, the anniversary of John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience. On that date – May 24, in 1738, a young Anglican priest named John Wesley went to a bible study class on Aldersgate Street in London. And what he experienced there so changed his life and his faith that he was never the same again. And because his heart was changed that night, a movement called Methodism was born.
What Wesley experienced that night was an intense sense of assurance that God loved him, and that God had truly forgiven his sins. But Wesley’s experience on Aldersgate Street did not occur in a vacuum. He had been struggling for some time with feelings of unworthiness before God. Was he good enough? Was he going to go to heaven in the end? What else should he be doing to please God? These are not unfamiliar questions for those of us who take our faith seriously, but for John, and for his brother Charles, they became paramount.
But after John’s Aldersgate experience he began to feel a deeper sense of assurance of God’s love, and a desire to share that assurance with others. There were still times when he struggled with his faith (don’t we all?), but the Holy Spirit began to use John and Charles in a powerful way to encourage other Christians in their faith.
This is a good time for us United Methodists to take a personal inventory of our own spiritual lives. When I hear a story like that of John Wesley I find myself looking at my own faith. Do I trust in Christ – Christ alone – for my salvation? Do I know the love of God deep in my heart?
And if so, what am I doing about it? How does my life reflect the love of God? What spiritual disciplines am I following to keep me regularly in touch with God’s grace? Am I praying, reading the Bible, meditating, worshipping, and serving others?
May we all be inspired by the story of the founders of Methodism to claim God’s assurance in our own hearts and bring the love of God to our world.