Stripped image of John Wesley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you believe you are going on to perfection?”
Perfection? What an impossible goal, some of us might think. We are just trying to do the best we can, and we know that we are not anywhere near perfect! How could the question even be asked. We are often encouraging ourselves and others to self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is difficult enough, much less the idea of perfection. What a question!
This is a question that is regularly asked, however. It is asked of those being ordained in the United Methodist Church. It was asked by John Wesley to any who were leadership in the early Methodist movement. United Methodist believe in perfection. Steve Manskar in wesleyanleadership.wordress.com says: Wesley defined perfection as “love [seated] upon the throne which is erected in the inmost soul; namely, love of God and [humankind], which fills the whole heart, and reigns without a rival” (Sermon 92: On Zeal). It is the “holy tempers” formed in the soul: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
It is a lofty goal, but we are called to aim high. We are called to self-acceptance, but we are also called to grow in God’s grace. We are always a work in progress. We need transformation. We need to strive towards perfection. If you don’t believe that you are going on to perfection, then where are you going? Are you headed anywhere? Are you just staying where you are?
This week, let us accept that we are not perfect, but we are going onto perfection. We are on a journey. Let us work towards being more fully the people God has created us to be.
Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love (Photo credit: epSos.de)
God calls each of us to witness to God. We are called to share the transformational love of God that is offered to all of the world. We talked about this in worship recently at Palmyra United Methodist Church. The challenge was given to look for ways to witness to God in the world. My prayer was to find ways to witness to God’s love.
God answered that prayer. Monday morning my phone rang. A couple I had never met wanted to get married. Could I? Would I? They did not have any financial resources, but they wanted a Christian wedding rather than a civil wedding. I had a meeting at 2:00, but I could do it before then. They showed up. We went in the sanctuary. They were married. We took a couple of pictures. They left. It was less than ten minutes, but sometimes the witnessing is not a time consuming event.
Are you open to the possibilities? Are you willing to witness?
John Wesley (1703-1791), founder of Methodism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sometimes we all feel that we need to do it all. We need to be perfect, or at least exceptionally good at everything. This is a lot of pressure to put on ourselves, but we do it. It is at times like these that it helps to think of those who have gone before us who have had struggles. John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist movement. The Methodist movement includes many denominations including the United Methodist Church. John’s brother, Charles Wesley, wrote many hymns and supported his brother in the founding of the movement. They were great preachers and teachers. Charles Welsey’s hymns are still being sung. John Wesley’s sermons are still read and quoted. They are great leaders of the church.
Yet, both had their struggles. Neither was successful when they came to the colonies. Both left in disgrace. There were problems relating to people. There were relationship conflicts. The founder of my denomination had an epic fail.
Yet, he went on to greatness. None of us are perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Yes, we can try to improve our weaknesses, but there are always things that we cannot do as well as others. It is okay for us not to be strong at everything. We must give ourselves permission to have both strengths and weaknesses. We must allow ourselves to celebrate our gifts and graces as well as acknowledge our weaknesses.
When we work from our strengths, we find ourselves able to do great things. When we use our gifts, then we are building up God’s kingdom. Let’s remember that no one is good at all things, even us.
photo © 2010 Ted | more info (via: Wylio)All human beings want to belong to a group, whether it is a biological family, a peer group, an association, or some other group. We want to be accepted as well as feeling there is freedom to be ourselves within the group. Sometimes this group acceptance is easier to achieve than other times.
As a clergy woman in the United Methodist Church, I attend the executive or clergy session of my annual conference. These are my colleagues, my peers, and siblings in the family of God. These are my people. I have felt various senses of belonging as a part of this group. In previous years, I have noticed how young I was in comparison to my colleagues. Now, I am not as young as I was. There are others who are younger than me. I am still in the minority as far as gender is concerned.
Yet when we the clergy stand to sing together, I realize again that indeed I am with my people, singing the praises of God, seeking God’s will, and reaffirming our commitment to serve. We are each uniquely and wonderfully made. We may disagree on polity and theology, but we are bound to one another.
It is my prayer that you have a body in which you belong. It is my prayer that you have a sense of belonging with a group of people who are praising God, seeking God’s will, and committed to serving God.