A Moment for Mission
“Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad; you restored your heritage when it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; …” – Psalm 68:9-10a, NRSV
Today is both Aldersgate Day and Heritage Sunday. Aldersgate Day recalls May 24, 1838, when John Wesley’s heart was “strangely warmed,” and the Methodist movement began. Heritage Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on United Methodism’s heritage and to celebrate where the church has been and how it shapes us today.
What insight does our shared history offer to United Methodists’ thoughts and feelings at “just such a time as this”? What stories do we need to remember and retell? How does the 18th-century ministry of Wesley, Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury influence us today? Can we find silver linings from past struggles for unity?
The General Commission on Archives and History plays a key role. Its purpose is to promote and care for the historical interests of The United Methodist Church at every level. It gathers, preserves and holds title to library and archival materials and shares interpretive materials on the history of the denomination and its predecessors.
It provides support, direction and encouragement for the work of annual conference and jurisdictional historical agencies and organizations by developing and making available historical, interpretive and training media. It also engages with other Wesleyan, Methodist or Evangelical United Brethren-related denominations in lifting up our joint heritage.
As we mark Heritage Sunday, we pray that this year will bear a message from our past to create a future with hope.
– Adapted from “2020 Heritage Sunday theme: The power through – division and unity in U.M. history,” the Rev. Alfred T. Day III, GCAH website. Used by permission.
Loving God, restore our church. Thank you for the people who shaped United Methodism’s past and who will lead us into a future with hope. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Seventh Sunday of Easter — God of Glory and Majesty, we have seen your glory in Christ, for it shines in our lives through the faithful who have walked with us on this journey. In seeing Christ’s glory in them, we have seen you. As we bring our gifts to you, remind us that the world will not see you and your glory unless they see it in each of us. Remind us as we move through each day that all around us are your children who are desperately searching for a glimpse of your holy presence and love. May they see it in us today. In the holy name of Christ, our Savior. Amen. (John 17:1-11)
On Aldersgate Day, United Methodists commemorate an 1838 event in John Wesley’s life that birthed the Methodist movement.
Reluctantly attending a meeting on Aldersgate Street, Wesley heard someone read Martin Luther’s preface to the epistle of Romans. As the reader described the change that God works in the heart through faith in Christ, Wesley said, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ … alone for salvation. And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
That experience changed the course of Wesley’s life. From then on, he preached to multitudes, emphasizing the importance of worship and evangelism. He and his followers revolutionized the social climate of England. And though Wesley never left the Church of England, he inspired the organization of Methodist congregations around the world.
On Aldersgate Day, we remember the life of John Wesley and his continued influence on United Methodism.