"Going on to perfection" doesn't mean that we don't make mistakes, it means we are learning to love perfectly as God loves us. It means that when we make mistakes we apologize, seek forgiveness, and try to make up for our errors. It means that we learn to allow God to love others through us even, and especially, when we are having a hard time being in the same room, or - let's be honest - on the same planet, as the other person.
Perhaps you, like me, carry a sadness through this season of holiday bling and charming carols. Maybe you feel the weight of a forgiveness withheld from an estranged family member or old friend. Or you hold a grief, old or new, that leaves you raw each time you experience a nostalgic moment of Christmas. Maybe you are simply missing someone who lives far away and wish that they could be safely home again. Whose voice do you wish you could hear just once more this Christmas? Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good news of great joy…
Peace for our world begins within reach of us. We are taught to walk humbly and love mercy, feed the hungry and welcome the stranger. We do this, we tame our inner wolf, by cultivating within ourselves everyday a peaceful spirit.
Our hope is like that of the prophets: we affirm that God is with those who are poor and oppressed and we speak out against the rich and powerful while at the same time learning the Way of God which the prophets taught and which Jesus ultimately lived out throughout his whole life story. We find hope in Christ and remember that we are the body of Christ, collectively, living out, through our whole life story, the Way of God.
Thy kingdom come, gracious God! Transform our very lives, individually and collectively, that we would trust in your hope for this world rather than trusting the fallible human cravings, fears, hubris, and hierarchies. In a world filled with unfathomable suffering and exquisite beauty, we trust in your goodness.
I don’t believe in teaching 10% tithing because I have come to understand that the people most susceptible to its teaching can least afford the financial burden and those who have the most capacity for following it are the least likely to meet it when in actuality they should be exceeding it.
So where are we with counting the cost and saving all we can? Wesley comes down hard on people’s vanity in this section. Don’t buy stuff for the sake of pride. No keeping up with the Joneses - it’ll just leave us bitter and empty - not to mention potentially broke. Wesley invites us to keep it simple and to teach our children the same.
So what does John Wesley have to say about earning all we can? If I were to sum it up, it would be something like this: work hard, find the thing that you can do, do it well and with honesty and integrity. Don't take a job that makes you sacrifice your morals. Nothing that hurts other people or forces you to lie, cheat, or abuse anyone. Work hard but not so hard that your body breaks. Make sure that you can rest - remember that we need Sabbath rest - and that the labor doesn't literally kill you. The same goes with your mind. Make sure that you have time to rejuvenate. Make sure that you have time for your family and community, because that's part of our life's work.
How do we understand ourselves apart from those who have helped to make us who we are? Honestly, we really can’t. Those who have gone before us will always be a part of us and we can find some comfort and perhaps healing in the remembering.
The trajectory of the biblical canon moves toward more and more justice, more and more love, more and more compassion. As the people who experienced God lived more into their faith and into the fullness of God’s love, their understanding of God also shifted.