1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
A Message from Pastor John
At the end of this month is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, a time in which we are acutely reminded of the brokenness of this world and, especially, the fallen nature of humanity. Although Christ’s church is the living embodiment of God’s redemptive grace poured into this world, God’s redemptive work is not yet complete, and so much brokenness remains within the church at large. The United Methodist Church clearly shows some of that brokenness. We seek the grace of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work within the church, and we seek a way through to living out God’s call upon our lives to join in God’s ongoing work in fully redeeming the world.
Still, there is much about the United Methodist Church and our Wesleyan heritage to lift up in these difficult times. A classmate and friend from the Course of Study shared with me some observations about the UM church. The Rev. Brian Baker, a Baptist pastor from Missouri, is personally unknown to both of us, but he’s got some good things to say about us. I shared them a few weeks ago during worship, but they’re worth repeating.
Our Methodist friends have been in the news a lot recently in the midst of sad denominational days. I don’t think it’s good to comment on the internal issues of other churches, especially not on social media, but I will write about what I admire in our Methodist cousins.
- I like the fact that so much of the time, you can just walk into a Methodist church and for reasons kind of beyond easy description, you feel like you’re in a church.
- I like the warm, frumpy dignity of traditional Methodist worship. It’s Anglicanism for the frontier middle class: simplified, accessible, evangelical. It’s robes and candles, unless it’s an upright piano and gospel hymns from the Cokesbury hymnal. Or both.
- I like that Methodism can be decisions and conversions, or it can be Confirmation and development for life. Or (better) both, depending on your church and your pastor.
- I like the fact that Methodism is constantly reinforcing its history as a disciplined way of doing Christianity through naming everything something familiar to the Wesleyan tradition: Epworth, Wesley, Asbury, Aldersgate, Coke. Or a combination of the above.
- I love how Methodism forces you to decide what you’re going to do with the gospel, but never leaves you with the whisper of the assumption that it’s a one-time decision, but rather a sign-up for a total change of life that expects total sanctification from the Spirit and demands total sanctification from your spirit.
- I love how no tradition has forced Christianity in America to be a singing faith as much as Methodism.
- I like the fact that the doctrine of total sanctification, such as it is, as John Wesley imagined it presents a distinctively Christian way for approaching literally almost any situation, or habit, life presents us.
- I like the fact that you can very reliably expect a Methodist minister to be intensely interested in the health of the community as a whole, and to be there for the needs of the community—even in a somewhat activistic way—consistently.
- I like how no group of ministers I’ve known in life somehow pull off snarky and optimistic like Methodists do.
- I love that I’ll spend eternity with John and Charles, and with millions and millions of people who walked a golden narrow way with them, in a place where more than a thousand tongues will sing our great Redeemer’s praise.