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Aldersgate series – Part One

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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 one

In May 1738 both Charles and John Wesley met God in significant experiences which influenced the rest of their lives – and many more lives since. Over the next four days we mark the anniversaries of those encounters as we retell the story through the words of John and Charles Wesley and pray that their words will resonate with us today.

Gathering

My talents, gifts and graces, Lord,
into thy blessed hands receive;
and let me live to preach thy word,
and let me to thy glory live; Amen

Charles Wesley, Singing the Faith 661, Hymns & Psalms 767

***


“Arise and believe”

These were the words which Charles Wesley heard on May 21st 1738.

Charles was at a low ebb. He had returned from Georgia in ill health and the long journey to England had not helped. For the following two years he struggled with ill-health and spiritual challenges. By May 1738 Charles was in a dark place and was lying on his sick bed in a mechanic’s house. John and some friends came in and sang a hymn. They feared that he would not recover.

When they left, Charles prayed alone for some time. It was here that he heard the voice bidding him to arise and believe. Later he wrote in his journal:

“I was composing myself to sleep in quietness and peace when I heard one come in and say, In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise, and believe, and thou shalt be healed of all thine infirmities. The words struck me to the heart. I lay musing and trembling.

With a strange palpitation of heart, I said, yet feared to say, I believe, I believe! ”

As he laid there other words came into his mind, culminating with a great sense of peace and the words of Isaiah 40: 1

‘Comfort ye, my people’

***

Hymn (Charles Wesley)

Charles wrote a hymn to mark the first anniversary of this awakening of faith.

“O For a thousand tongues to sing” was the first hymn in each Methodist hymn book for two centuries. Today you can find it in Singing the Faith 364 and Hymns & Psalms 744

You can hear selected verses in this Songs of Praise recording.

As you listen, read or sing this hymn today, which words stand out for you on the 384th anniversary of the call to Charles Wesley?

***

Tricia Mitchell, of Learning Network North East, said: "Our short Aldersgate series is based on services prepared by Revd Tony Buglass drawing on the sermons of John Wesley and the hymns of Charles Wesley.

"I am grateful to Tony for his wisdom in bringing these contributions together and for sharing them with us."

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