Psalms 22 and 23 are our ascribed readings for today. For the blog topic, I had to choose between “A serious call” and “I will fear no evil“. The former is about Wesley’s doctrine of Christian Perfection; the latter about Wesley’s fear of death.
I know that many Methodists will disagree with me, but it seems to me that Wesley’s view of Grace and the need to achieve “Perfection” meant that he would face a lifetime of spiritual turmoil, frustration and guilt.
When travelling across the Atlantic by ship to Georgia in America, Wesley was struck by the demeanour of the group of Moravians who were making the same journey. In the face of violent storms that threatened their lives, Wesley found himself afraid to die (because he did not believe himself saved), concerned and fearful of his eternal destiny, and was impressed by the Moravians acceptance of their position and sense of peace.
A sense of peace over Netley will not come upon us if we approach this season in an attitude of fear and striving. My work with Pioneer Connexion has taught me that we often need to learn to let go of what has gone before in order to enable something new to thrive. But that isn’t always the case. We speak of the need to let the seed fall to the ground and die before something new can grow from it. The trick is knowing and recognising at what stage in this circle of life we find ourselves…
Is the “seed” at Netley the seed that needs to die, or is it the seed that was already planted and needs nurturing to grow?
Whichever it is, fear will only serve to blind us. Striving will only tire and weaken us. We must discover a sense of peace in this season and set fear aside; learn to listen and to focus not on our own striving, but on the one who calls, equips and sends us.