What is Methodism Anyways?


(c) Epworth Old Rectory; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(A Remembrance on Aldersgate)

Over the last week, I had the opportunity to have a meal with a lifelong southern Baptist.   During that meal the question arose of why I was so far from home.   After I told him about why I was the Yankee in Tennessee court, there was a pause, followed by a scrunched brow and “what is a methodist anyways?”

Although I have some text-book answers to that question, the truth is you cannot answer that question, without asking and answering another question; who was John Wesley.    Although it is Jesus in whom we put our faith, trust and love…It was John Wesley, whose life, sermons, teaching, and ministry serves to become a filter of just what a Wesleyan Christian looks like.

Who was John Wesley?

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Because of Boston…


running woman

Before I left the house yesterday, I hit record on the DVR.   I was excited to watch the coverage of the 117Th running of the Boston Marathon on TV later that evening.   For me, there is nothing more motivating to my own quest for health and quicker miles than that of untold hours of video footage of  the best of the best alongside the everyday tackling 26.2 miles.  For 6 years I have been all about running, and usually, I am glued to the coverage of races like Boston, Chicago, or New York.

Last night I was glued to the television for other reasons.   This morning, I am still unable to fully grasp what I have seen and heard.   I am seeing images that just make no sense and strike too close to home.  I am seeing images that speak of war ravished areas, not of Boston.  This doesnt make sense; and I wonder when it will.

Boston means something hard to put into words.  I have declared since the early days of our marriage that we will someday retire to Boston.   This has been our vacation getaway and some of our greatest family memories have occurred at the spot of yesterday’s chaos.   Stacey and I have stayed at the Lenox for romantic getaways without the kids, and then the Marriot when they were with us. We have toured Trinity and Old South Church, and made special runs for Truffles at Copley Square.   I have worked on mini-mission trips not far from there.

And it was at that finish line, a newly quit smoker and at my heaviest, that I decided that someday I was going to run.   Silently, on a Sunday before the 2007 marathon, I decided someday I would run that race.   I wasn’t sure how I would get there, or if my knees would hold, but something changed in me at that spot.

Although it wasn’t immediate, I did lace up the shoes with that finish line and those runners in mind.   Although, it may have taken forever for a 3 minute run to turn into a 20 miler, everything began to change.   I became a different man, husband, father, Christian, Pastor, and professional.   The doubts disappeared, and so do a great deal of anger and regret.   With the pounds lost, a better man remained.  Along the way I became a runner in ways that are hard to put into words.    I became a runner because of that finish line I swore to one day pass.

Today, when I run, I will lace up with many different images in my vision.

It seems that I have reminded my congregation on several occasions over the last year, that the Jews have a saying;  “The worst scars you will receive in life, will be upon the eyes, when you see that which can never be unseen”.     Many of the images that I saw yesterday fall into that category.   Once again, we are a nation that is dealing with yet another senseless act of violence.

I guess it is time to do what makes sense;  I will do what I always do when my heart breaks;   I will run.

I call my runs Sabbath moments.   They are moments that I feel closer to God.  They are moments that I feel holier.

They are moments that I frequently spend in prayer, sometimes in conversation, and – when my breathing holds – occasionally I sing.    There have been times when I have had deep conversations with God.   There have been times when nothing has been said or thought.   There have been times when I have been angry, hurt, or heartbroken.   There have been times I have run with tears streaming down my face.

Today, I will run, and ask the same questions I asked after Sandy Hook, after funerals, after Aurora, and after hearing that heartbreaking phone call from a friend, parishioner, or family member.  I will remind myself that God is not seen in the violence of the storm or earthquake, but in the still small voice that follows.

I will remind myself that God cries with 8 year old Martin.    I will remind myself that God cries with his mother.   I will remind myself that God is standing with the runner who will never run again.  I will remind myself that even if it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t mean that God is absent.    I will ask him why.   I will ask him what do we do now.    I will once again ask for answers that will likely have to wait.

Despite those questions that cause my heart to ache, I will do that which makes sense.

I will run.

I will run, because it still makes sense.

I will run, because of Boston.

~*~

“Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.”

~Psalm 26.2 (The Runners Psalm)

The Touchstone; An Easter Message


touchstone

The following was the Easter Message for 2012.   It was delivered at Asbury Church in Chesterfield, New Hampshire to a pack crowd.    In celebration of this most Holy time, I post it again today.  

Shalom, Scott

****** 

There is a Romanian legend of a young man who was raised in the poorest of circumstances.   When he was a small child he was one of six children born to very poor fishermen on the shore of the black sea.    Existence was day to day and much harsher than any of us can imagine.    When he was barely four, a sickness swept through the small village that he called home.    In a matter of weeks he was the only one of his family that was left.

His life was even harder from that point on.  He jumped from home to home, and he relied on the generosity and charity of strangers.   Some of the families who took him in were kind and loving.   Others were not.    Some saw the growing boy as cheap or slave labor to make ends meet.   Although some showed whatever hospitality they could afford, others treated him harshly.

He dreamed that one day he would find the way out.  

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