On May 3 we will receive the Confirmation Class into the membership of the Church. It seemed fitting for me to share with you “Why I Am a United Methodist” on that day. And since May 24th falls on a Sunday this year, I thought it might be nice to do a month focused on Methodism. What’s the significance of May 24th, you may ask?
As you probably know, John Wesley started the movement that became the Methodist Church. May 24, 1738, was a watershed day in the life of the Anglican priest. Wesley had a life altering experience that he came to refer to it as his “heart-warming experience at Aldersgate Street.”
That morning he read from 2 Peter, “There are given to us exceeding great and precious promises, even that you shall be partakers of the divine nature.” Later he opened his Bible again, and his eyes were fixed on these words: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” He felt God was telling him that his search and coldness of heart were nearly over. He walked the streets of London all morning, while the words echoed in his mind: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” He later wrote in his journal, “At three in the afternoon I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral where the choir was singing the 130th Psalm — their cry being my cry: “Out of the depths have I cried to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!” Yet there was no answer to my plea. He was encouraged by a friend to attend a meeting that night on Aldersgate Street. He wrote, “I shudder to think what might have become of me had I not gone. Someone was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change that God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation.”
My prayer is that we all will have such heart-warming experiences of God’s love and acceptance. When we can affirm, with Paul, that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ!