In a sermon shared with clergy colleagues last week I spoke of how powerful it is to look back and name what God has helped us to do and become. Effective non -profits and businesses do this well. Here’s an example from North Carolina that might get us thinking about how to assess and communicate something similar in our churches.
At the close of one year and the start of another many personal inventories are offered to us. This year seems to be amplified by the turn in decades! We can take stock of what fills our homes, of our work goals, of our relationships, of our health. John Wesley’s “means of grace” offers an inventory of our journey with Jesus. How engaged are we? What discipleship practices were most meaningful last decade? What practices might God be calling us to renew now? (And is your relationship with God through Christ as important to you as other aspects of your life?)
*Acts of compassion, justice, and mercy
Just like an exercise program, growth only happens when we actually put into action what we have been thinking about. I don’t know about you, but I find that much more compelling when I have partners. I pray more often when I know someone is going to ask, “how was your prayer life this week?” I follow through with fasting when I’m in purposeful covenant with others. I encounter the depth and nuances of scripture more deeply in conversation with others as well as on my own.
It can be tempting to get distracted or to push pause when uncertainties loom. Wesley reminded the Christians of his day, as Jesus did in his, that the time to recognize God’s transforming presence is now. We do not wait for perfect structures or outcomes. My prayer for each and all of us is that in a new decade our practices would grow in intention, partnership and power.
In God’s Grace, Karen
P.S. For a good introduction to Wesley’s means of grace, try Elaine Heath’s little book, “Five Means of Grace: Experiencing God’s Love the Wesleyan Way.” Even better, read it with a friend.
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.