Wednesday, September 11
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
How nice it would be to have a road map for the future which we could follow. How comforting it would be if the Bible gave us black-and-white rules to guide us in response to every conceivable situation. But maps can only take you places that have already been visited, and, laws cannot anticipate all circumstances and the unexpected changes that inevitably arise.
Thankfully, Jesus did not bring us a new and improved Law. He connected us to the living God, and taught us to remain connected in faith to the presence of the Holy Spirit. Our faith in the living God means we need not fear the unmapped future or surprising challenges as we strive to carry the teachings of Jesus in the world. We do not allow fear to dictate our choices.
In the Church, the term “constancy” has traditionally referred to an unwavering commitment and connection to God, not a demand that we do things as we have always done them. As people committed to growing in faith, we recognize change is inevitable. The Church will always be faced with new situations. Just as Unity pushes us to show love to one another amidst our disagreements, the virtue of constancy demands that we stay connected to God as we struggle to discern a faithful path into the future.
And so, here again we return to the same theological principle we saw in Unity: our local community of faith will only be as strong as our connection to God.
Worshipping together; spending time in individual and corporate prayer; confession; service; reading scripture; using our spiritual gifts — these are the practices which enable us to stay connected to the Holy Spirit. And while all members of the Church are encouraged to maintain spiritual practices, it is essential for those in leadership to develop a healthy pattern of living.
John Wesley did not leave his spiritual growth to chance. He incorporated spiritual practices into his daily life, creating a rhythm which made him aware of God’s presence. Five disciplines were particularly important to him.
Prayer: Wesley spent time praying every morning. He also oﬀered a short prayer every hour, on the hour, as well as praying before important actions.
Bible Study: He read scripture daily, even while traveling on horseback. His love for scripture was so great he said, “Let me be a man of one book.”
Journaling: Wesley recorded his experiences each day in a journal, noting what he did each hour. He reﬂected upon this journal at the end of the day to notice where he fell short.
Fasting: Wesley usually fasted from breakfast and lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays. He fasted for longer periods when praying for something speciﬁc.
Taking Holy Communion: He believed the sacrament was a means of God’s grace. He took communion weekly, and encouraged all Methodists to do the same.
• What are the spiritual disciplines that most help you draw closer to God?
• Which of Wesley’s spiritual practices have you NOT tried out in your own life?
• What rhythm of life can you create, to ensure you spend regular, quality time practicing them?