Day nine getting niggly in the detail

Don’t people love numbers, they like them black not red, they like them positive not negative, the older we get the more often we get our age in the conversation. We like time too, at this time I will do that, in three days I will do the other.

Are we ruled by them? Once a friend told me we would leave at 8:23, I nearly fell off my chair. This is Ireland, we are never on time. I have been without my glasses for a number of months and so only the 12, 3, 6 and 9 on a clock were clearly visible. Everything as a result got a little bit blurry and hazy. Time began to mean less, number I couldn’t see failed to register as important.

Driving I could not see the digital display clock or the speedometer for that matter so I drove slower and more precisely than with glasses. Today I picked them up at the opticians and was able to see properly, the shopkeeper, the displays, my reflection in the mirror, gosh my hair was a mess.

Numerology of course is the study of number things. There was a whole movement within Christianity that tried to unlock the number codes in the Bible. But all the numbers in the world don’t mean squat compared to this.

To Jesus we are one, I am one and you are one. He knows each of us better than anyone else. He knows the hairs on our head. He knows us. How wonderful, how marvelous is that!

As I spend time with Wesley I am beginning to realise that here was an academic who knew bucketloads of stuff but it didn’t mean squat till he became a new creation in the Lord. Until the Lord could see Wesley through Jesus’ eyes his life was meaningless, just like ours were before Christ.

Being articulate does not make you a child of God, book learning does not make you a child of God, only true, sincere, authentic acceptance as Christ as our Lord and Saviour with his grace, mercy and love abounding in our hearts and lives.

What a Saviour

Oh Lord I thank you for that saving grace that sought me out and changed my world inside out, put me on this rollercoaster which is scary and exciting and I wouldn’t miss one second of it. Thank you Lord for all the people you have put beside me, to help, to encourage, to challenge, to rebuke and correct me. I thank you for the Holy Spirit that ever guides my way. I am an empty vessel for you to use as you will. Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord. Amen

Day eight swamped

I think if I was working on the two a day that I started out thinking was achievable, I would be sitting in a pile of gooey despondency. But I am not. I am loving this experience of spending time with a preacher from many years ago. I have completed four sermons today so far, one was quite difficult because I had to look up what the jargon meant.

I was originally given the plain English version of Wesley’s studies because I couldn’t understand the language of the original. It is a common complaint. But in all honesty it is not the language per se it is the concepts and jargon and even in plain English they are hard to comprehend if you are learning with the head. Learning with the heart is a completely different way of studying, entering into the vortex of the heart to let the Spirit explain those ghastly terms that the world hasn’t equipped us to know.

Learning with the Spirit guiding is such a wonderful experience and I learn so much in such a short amount of time, it is not a lazy time, it is full on busy but busy being not doing.

Jump up and rejoice in the Lord always and again we shout REJOICE

13 of 44

 

Day six How would John Wesley take his coffee?

Two years ago or possibly less when I was given the task of reading these forty four sermons I completed the task. I am a monkey see monkey do kind of a girl and so if I am given a task I complete it. There is a whole world of difference between reading something and reading and understanding it.

Now I am discovering there is a whole pile of difference between blandly reading and engaging with the author. So there is what two hundred and fifty years time difference but I want to have a cup of coffee with John Wesley. His mind intrigues me, and as I travel half way across the country for a decent Spirit filled conversation I have no problems imagining travelling back in time.

I wonder what he would make of us now, there are no penny gin houses in London anymore but there are plenty of distractions for a Christian to get caught up in, like finding the best barista in town. Such opulence, such spendthriftly ways in church. Where’s the fire? Where’s the commitment? Let’s have tea instead.

Would we listen to his vitriolic sermons? Would we turn on our heel, well turned out ones at that? What kind of church have we become? What kind of welcome would he receive?

And I want to ask him loads of questions about how his ideas changed? And then I am thinking am I going to do this with all these theologians and preachers from eons ago. And then I am just smiling wryly and thinking of all the times in my life I was supposed to study and wouldn’t and what a transformation to this voluntary immersion.

So a daft small poem to celebrate reaching my favourite sermon (9)

Java with John

I wonder how he takes his coffee?

Or would he go for tea?

This instance of historic holiness

Sitting in our putrid mess

 

Wesley preached a mighty sermon

Lived a life shrunk from ermine

Forbearance he taught

Universality for naught

 

But what did he teach us

What can we learn

The heart of his theology

Is his astute pneumatology

 

To live a life in the Spirit

Collecting gifts and fruit

To love as we are loved

Communion with the unloved

 

So John will ye have a latte

With you being older than Kawate

I know enough not to offer Rioja

But what about a mocha?

 

 

 

Day three with the Wesleys

I managed to find time to study after work last night due to the fortuitous use of Castleisland as a horse fair yesterday. Got a huge surprise – the third sermon in the book is by Charles not John. As I read the sermon I couldn’t help by imagining him preaching loud and clear with occasional quiet almost whispering to the congregation. There are many points in history I would like to be a part of and this is one of them. I well remember the beginning of the squirm in this time, imagine the squirm back then.

As I write this my house is waking up, I awoke hours ago and continued my studies but the rest of the house remained asleep. Awake, awake o sleeper. I had intended to write a small piece on the sermon but the words wouldn’t lie easy inside of me and so 2.6k words later I get my first pause of the day.

At this moment I see the trinity clearly in their preaching and the Holy Spirit is so present. They could not have preached those words without living in the Spirit.

Of course life is continuing while I study, relationships are broken, new relationships in seedlike transition are beginning. It is with joy I enter into a time of messages with my spouse. As he pointed out last night, there is no food in house. What is food when you can study, I countered. But I have to admit, having missed dinner to study last night I was hungry by bedtime.

I feel like my life outside of study is just a distraction, every aspect is flat and bland compared to reading these Spirit filled words and immersing myself in these two guys work and as a result sitting with the Lord while I study. I must work on this, I must find a balance of out there and in here lest I fall back into old habits of remaining here.

Onward, arise, shine and gather the carriage, to town we must depart!

Day One on Wesley

The idea of learning and being familiar with John Wesley’s sermons, well forty four of them anyway is not something that ever appealed to me. Not because I don’t have a deep respect for John Wesley and his evangelism in the working class areas of the north of England from where I come from. Not because I have any problem studying lengthy documents and gleaning their relevance to today.

No my problem is that it is marketed as a book learning exercise but I (of course) will not be doing it like that. I am coming at them in a spirit of prayer and personal reflection on his ideas that we are made in the image of God to sin and grace, salvation through Christ, assurance, sanctification etc. It will be devotional and confessional rather than theoretical, allowing the sermons to read me, pierce my heart and convict me by the Holy Spirit in those areas of my life that are not of God.

My plan is to read out loud the sermons in plain English and leave a copy here for anyone who wishes to hear them and then write about them, read sermons based on Wesley’s sermons and devote lots of time (twenty two days) to this project.

So with God’s help, with the Spirit flowing freely and in communion with the Living Lord let’s press on.