"'does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God? Wesley was mortified that he 'knew not what to answer'" John Wesley, A Brand From The Burning (R.Hattersley) P105
Few moments in life are truly special. However, for the entire Methodist People today is a marvelous day of affirmation and celebration as we endorse and commission a new set, fresh from training, of Presbyters and Deacons ready to serve our movement and the wider church. The service I attended was held at Chester Cathedral. As the summer sunlight danced throughout the building, over five hundred people sung, prayed and cheered a merry band of ten ministers as they were commissioned.
It was a marvellous occasion and really left me both strangely warmed and considering what calling I may have to such an inspiring movement. However, this is a post to consider the quote at the opening. For the theme of today's 'inspiring' sermon was about the need to focus (as a minister) on developing a positive relationship with God. Leaving aside some theological questions, it reminded me of the quip from Wesley as he sailed access to Georgia. Wesley was worried he didn't "know" Jesus in the clear way the question challenged. Yet, through his questioning answers he pleased the questioner, who felt sure of Wesley's Faith. As the preacher today reeled off example after example of ways ministers are challenged and overworked I wasn't entirely sure it was an appropriate sermon until I reflected further. The nub of the sermon and Wesley's dilemma is less about the positive answer and more about taking time to rediscover why you are doing what you do, to ensure there is something backing up the words you say. As Christians we will find many in positions of leadership talking about a relationship with Christ. How often do we really consider what that means. Our earthly relationships need time and effort to give them life and vitality. When relationships are stretched we must knuckle down and when they flow freely we must revel and appreciate. With that we return to the service. For every person being ordained today is already in a relationship with their local church. When a minister, whom the nationwide movement so clearly affirms, comes to a congregation I think we should all be ready. Ready to work and release their gifts, all working to ensure they are supported by those they serve. I stood to affirm my friends today. Next Sunday, how many of us will affirm a minister as they seek to enable us all to encounter God? What steps do we take to ensure all our relationships attest to the faith we proclaim in church?