A candle that shall not be put out?

There are two reflections each day in “Light the fire again” – one for the morning and one for the evening.  I shall not share them both because time does not allow, but will choose between them.  Today though, I’ll say a little about both.

The first considers the formation of the Holy Club – this was the small group of “Enthusiasts” who met in Oxford during Wesley’s time there.  They were Methodical and strict in their approach to their religious life.  This was, to some extent at least, a reflection of Wesley’s very strict family upbringing in Epworth, mostly under the watchful guidance of his mother.

There was a constant striving towards Holiness, towards Christian Perfection.  The text used for headlining this piece is from Psalm 15:1 – “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?”

If you read the remainder of that Psalm, it would be possible to interpret it as saying that only the elite, those who have reach some kind of perfection and are without sin can “dwell in [his] sanctuary”.

It’s a passage that puzzles me greatly, especially in the context of a a New Testament perspective of grace, and of a God who seeks to dwell in our hearts; who is present within us; who’s Holy Spirit provides us with comfort, strength and counsel.

Our faith is not intended for an elite; for those who have no need of grace.  Indeed, Christ himself said that He came to save the lost.

A Candle that shall not be put out

The second part of today’s reflection takes us through the martyrdom/execution of Bishops Ridley and Latimer in 1555 – burned at the stake for their faith.  It recalls the impossibly encouraging words of Latimer to Ridley, “be of good good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man.  We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

For me these two passages are linked by grace.  By the transformation that Jesus brings to our understanding of a loving God – a God who knows us, loves us, wants the best for us, in whom we dwell, and who dwells in us.

It is by His Grace alone that the candle of faith is lit; by His Grace alone that we shall come to know His will; by His Grace alone that others too will come to know Him.

If God has a future planned for our little Church at Netley, it will not be achieved by our striving alone, through organisation and grand plans, but by His Grace, for His glory and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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