Welcome: Friends, I want to welcome you to Lent. To the time in which we each decide to reboot our internal computers. To examine our lives and find how sin has crept in. How we have unobservantly omitted the things of God from our lives. I want to urge each of you to use Lent to place yourselves back in a full, life-giving relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ. As Methodists, we have the teaching about the “Means of Grace” to encourage us in the Christian life. These practices of prayer, scripture, fasting, worship and Christian Community are God-given graces that allow us to better see him. In our Sunday morning services, we will be going through some of these practices. The slow path of becoming a disciple is filled with the richness of Christian tradition. These “means” are the way we find what has been Left Neglected and fill the spaces with the things of God. This short reader is just part of the practice. During Lent, we will read and reflect together. I want to encourage you to find a friend or two and routinely talk about how these readings are affecting you. Participate in Christian community (another means) in this way...it will change you! We will be reading through the gospel passages of the last week of Christ, otherwise referred to as “The Passions.” We will also have an Old Testament reading and a selection from our Methodist tradition. We will be reading through John Wesley’s sermon “The Almost Christian”, one of my favorites. This sermon has affected me deeply in so many ways and I wanted to share it with you as well. Read slow. Read for change. Read to reflect. But most of all...read to meet with Christ.
Week 1 John 13:1-20 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I AM the Messiah. I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.”
“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” “O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the LORD. “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight. I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces— to slaughter you with my words, with judgments as inescapable as light. I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. But like Adam, you broke my covenant and betrayed my trust. “Gilead is a city of sinners, tracked with footprints of blood. Priests form bands of robbers, waiting in ambush for their victims. They murder travelers along the road to Shechem and practice every kind of sin. Yes, I have seen something horrible in Ephraim and Israel: My people are defiled by prostituting themselves with other gods! “O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you, though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.
The Almost Christian. Pt 1
Preached at St. Mary's, Oxford, before the University, on July 25, 1741. Â "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Acts 26:28 Â AND many there are who go thus far: ever since the Christian religion was in the world, there have been many in every age and nation who were almost persuaded to be Christians. But seeing it avails nothing before God to go only thus far, it highly imports us to consider, First. What is implied in being almost, Secondly. What in being altogether, a Christian.
(I.) 1. Now, in the being almost a Christian is implied, First, heathen honesty. No one, I suppose, will make any question of this; especially, since by heathen honesty here, I mean, not that which is recommended in the writings of their philosophers only, but such as the common heathens expected one of another, and many of them actually practised. By the rules of this they were taught that they ought not to be unjust; not to take away their neighbour's goods, either by robbery or theft; not to oppress the poor, neither to use extortion toward any; not to cheat or overreach either the poor or rich, in whatsoever commerce they had with them; to defraud no man of his right; and, if it were possible, to owe no man anything. 2. Again: the common heathens allowed, that some regard was to be paid to truth, as well as to justice. And, accordingly, they not only held him in abomination who was forsworn, who called God to witness to a lie; but him also who was known to be a slanderer of his neighbour, who falsely accused any man. And indeed, little better did they esteem wilful liars of any sort, accounting them the disgrace of human kind, and the pests of society. 3. Yet again: there was a sort of love and assistance which they expected one from another. They expected whatever assistance any one could give another, without prejudice to himself. And this they extended not only to those little offices of humanity which are performed without any expense or labour, but likewise to the feeding the hungry, if they had food to spare; the clothing the naked with their own superfluous raiment; and, in general. the giving, to any that needed, such things as they needed not themselves. Thus far, in the lowest account of it, heathen honesty went; the first thing implied in the being almost a Christian.