May 16 — 7th Sunday of Easter/Ascension Sunday—Heritage Sunday (Next Week, with No Special Offering)

A Moment for Mission

“I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers.” — Ephesians 1:18, CEB

Next Sunday, United Methodists celebrate Heritage Sunday. On this special day, we remember the past by committing ourselves to God’s continuing call.

We know these words by heart: “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come.” Recall the biblical stories that shape our faith: God swept over, under, around and through dark, chaotic primordial waters and brought forth light and life.

Through theological and ecclesiastical disagreements, the movement launched by John and Charles Wesley grew into a global United Methodist Church, through many a compromise that in hindsight makes us scratch our heads and wonder how we survived but in God’s time may have been the Holy Spirit’s only avenue to stick with us to where we find ourselves today.

History reminds us that the experience of and work for change is slow. Finding a way through social and structural changes is time-consuming, tedious and fraught with challenges, especially in the moment. But history’s long view reminds us that inspired, determined vision, and our efforts to bring such vision to reality, are not in vain.

United Methodists can’t sit still. This is the Wesleyan dynamic duo: personal piety and social holiness are an inseparable connection. The Christian journey is a journey inward and a journey outward. God’s love in action, propelled by our life in Jesus Christ, will see us through.

“’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Thanks be to God!

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, may we recognize the hope of your call, “the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers,” and share that call with others. In your name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Seventh Sunday of Easter (Ascension Sunday) — Loving God of both comfort and challenge; we have been blessed to know the feeling of being surrounded in your loving arms like a child. Yet we also know that is not a place we can stay. You send us to be part of the world – with all its ugliness, anger, hate, deceit, and betrayals – but not of the world. You call us to give, so that love, compassion, and hope might be set loose, we are not giving as those who are of the world – expecting to receive in the transaction. We give instead out of gratitude for your loving heart, made known to us in Christ. Use us in this way, we pray in the blessed name of Christ, who by your love overcame death. Amen. (John 17:6-19)

Newsletter Nugget
In 1738, as Church of England priest John Wesley attended a group meeting on Aldersgate Street in London, his heart was “strangely warmed,” and he experienced the assurance of salvation. United Methodists observe Heritage Sunday on Aldersgate Day (May 24) or the Sunday preceding that date. This special day is an opportunity to reflect on our heritage and celebrate where the church has been, how it understands itself as it shapes us today and the meaning of Christian conferencing.

The 2021 theme is “Pride, Shame and Pain: Methodist History with Racism and Our Efforts to Dismantle It.” Worship resources and videos are available at

The story of the Judeo-Christian faith is about God busy in the world, not saving us from the “dangers, toils and snares” we face every day but, rather, redeeming, even sanctifying, us through them.

What is our history if not a witness to prayerful piety and social engagement connecting people to the hopeful good news of Jesus Christ?

Adapted from “The Power of through It All,” a 2020 Heritage Sunday sermon, the Rev. Alfred T. Day III, general secretary, General Commission on Archives and History. Used by permission.