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Aldersgate series – Part Four

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During Wesley Weekend, a short series based on services prepared by Rev Tony Buglass, working alongside Tricia Mitchell, of Learning Network North East, was emailed out to subscribers of the Great 50 Days email community.

If you are a subscriber, you will have received the series in four parts, concluding on Tuesday 24th May.

If not, we are running each part of the series over four days this week.

Here is part four

"In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."

In this moment John Wesley felt in his heart what he had long known in his head.

Gathering in Worship

Give me a new, a perfect heart,
free from all doubt and fear at last;
the mind which was in Christ impart,
and let my spirit hold you fast. Amen
Charles Wesley, Singing the Faith 498, Hymns & Psalms 726

***

Hymn (Charles Wesley)
This prayerful hymn by John's brother recognises the need for a 'change of heart' when we meet with Jesus in a new life-changing way:

O for a heart to praise my God, a heart from sin set free
(Singing the Faith 507 / Hymns & Psalms 536)

Finally, here are words from "The Catholic Spirit"
(sermon by John Wesley)

"It is allowed even by those who do not pay this royal debt, that love is due to all mankind; the royal law "you shall love your neighbour as yourself" carries its own evidence to all that hear it. However, we owe a particular love to those that love God. But how many obstacles are in the way! They cannot all think alike, and in consequence cannot all walk alike.

But although a difference in opinions may prevent an entire external union, need it prevent our union in affection? Though we cannot all think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without doubt, we may.

I dare not, therefore, presume to impose my mode of worship on any other. I believe it is authentic and apostolic, but my belief is no rule for another.

I ask not, therefore, are you of my church, my congregation? Do you receive the supper of the Lord in the same manner as I do? Nor in the manner of administering baptism, or the age of those to whom it should be administered. Let all these things stand; we will talk of them, if need be, at a more convenient time; my only question at present is this: is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart? If it be, give me your hand.

So while someone is steadily fixed in his religious principles, in what he believes to be the truth as it is in Jesus; while he firmly adheres to that worship of God which he believes most acceptable in his sight; and while he is united by the tenderest and closest ties to one particular congregation – his heart is enlarged toward all people, those he knows and those he does not; he embraces with strong and cordial affection neighbours and strangers, friends and enemies. This is catholic or universal love."

How these words still resonate today in a society deeply divided on almost every issue presented. As a church we seek to disagree well, to have difficult conversations and to respect those who hold very different views to our own. This may at times feel like a twenty-first century ailment – perhaps the sermon we have shared assures us that difference is part of being human, and further back still we read this in the fourth chapter of the bible (Genesis 4: 1-14). Despite this we know that it is when we are prepared to really respect and listen to those with a different perspective that we grow – and maybe even find our hearts strangely warmed....

Hymn (Charles Wesley)
Charles picks up this theme in the hymn:

Christ from whom all blessings flow
(Singing the Faith 676/ Hymns & Psalms 764)

As our short Wesley Weekend comes to a close may we too find our hope in knowing that Christ is all in all. Amen

Thank you to Revd Tony Buglass who has inspired this short "Wesley Weekend" series. We hope that you have found blessing and inspiration in the stories and words of John and Charles Wesley, and that you can ponder on their witness in the days to come.

May God bless you, warm your heart and grant you peace.

Tricia Mitchell

Learning Network, North East

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