Secondly: By doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all…
From “The General Rules of the Methodist Church”
For those of us who carry an idea that the world of the 18th-century was more amenable to living a good, faithful life, a mindful reading of the second General Rule will challenge that assumption. Wesley encouraged these burgeoning Methodists to deal in life and business primarily with one another, as his experience led him to believe “the world will love its own and them only.” He called all who would continue on this road to Christian perfection “to be as the filth and off scouring of the world; and looking that men should say all manner of evil of them falsely, for the Lord’s sake.”
Being a disciple of Jesus has never been an easy or default position in life. Maybe that’s comforting to you; it is to me. Baring your soul to God each evening in prayer and acknowledging the mistakes, poor decisions, or words you’d like back is much harder than persisting in wrongness. Self-denial requires more effort than self-deception.
What does “doing good of every possible sort” look like to us today? In Wesley’s day, it meant caring for the physical and spiritual needs of people through visiting the sick and incarcerated, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sharing a difficult word when needed, and more. I don’t know that our calling has changed all that much.
We as a church community have sought to do all the good we can in my time as your pastor. We brought in a ramp to improve accessibility to the Sanctuary for people of all abilities. We began leading worship services at Hunterdon Care Center and Independence Manor for those who might otherwise not hear a word of life and hope from God each Sunday. We partnered with other churches in housing the homeless through Family Promise. We have had difficult but necessary and life-giving conversations on racism, sexism, LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and more. I have sought to do concrete acts of faithful goodness in my time leading this church.
Yet there is much that remains undone. That accessibility work is incomplete. We have been limited in our outreach to the residents of the nusing home and assisted living facility. Our work with Family Promise has changed a bit, too, and will continue to change. Those conversations on important subjects didn’t banish all those challenges from our minds.
This is why I give thanks for the General Rules. We make lists for things we need to accomplish and complete. We make rules to continue in a sense of purposeful self-discipline so as not to get confused, lost, or muddled along the way. And so, friends, continue to do no harm, and seek also to do all the good you can in the days to come.
Keep the Faith,
Annual Conference 2021 Wrap-Up
If you’d like to catch up on the preaching, legislation, appointments, ordinations, and more of this year’s Annual Conference session, you can find links to videos of each session and summaries of the work here: https://www.gnjumc.org/2021-annual-conference/.
Upcoming Family Promise Help Dates – July 4th Weekend
Thanks to John Newton, Walter Maze, and everyone else who helped feed the family in our care with Family Promise this past week. The ministry has changed somewhat, but the goal remains caring for people and families experiencing temporary homelessness. We will be tasked with providing food for another family the first weekend of July. If you would like to purchase, deliver, or donate in another way, please let Walter know.
Fellowship Hall Possibilities
COVID pressed pause on our after-worship gatherings, but those gatherings will resume one day. Before they do, this is a good time to think about the possibilities of the space we have to bless our neighbors, too. Prior to COVID precautions, we’d welcomed Cub Scout Packs, Dart Teams, line dancers, church events, and more to the space. What improvements or repairs should be made in the coming months to better serve its purpose as a community space for Flemington? A survey will go out in the coming weeks – share and help shape the future of this church!
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