There are two things to do about the gospel. Believe it and behave it. Susanna Wesley.
Everyone has a backstory. The saga includes courageous stories of valor we never heard and pioneering contributors we never met. The ongoing narrative expands throughout history long before us and will continue to carry on into the future long after us. The image of the number line I used in grade school extending both ways into infinity comes to mind.
Wheatland has a backstory too. Some of us may be acquainted with the Wheatland story from the time we were a country church located at Route 59 & 95th Street. Chuck McPheeters helped reclaim our history by mentally capturing a nostalgic reminiscence and painstakingly applied them onto canvas. You may see these historic watercolor renditions in the hallway at the Naperville campus.
Methodism's backstory includes courageous stories of valor and pioneering people we've never met. The early Methodists' contribution laid a foundation for the Church that continues to flourish to this very day. Many independent mega churches of our time can trace their theological foundations to grace, which John Wesley amplified as the hallmark of theology. John Wesley fought publicly and behind the scenes against the politically distinguished and thoroughly entrenched academic theological heavy weights of his time. Wesley preached in open-air gatherings, created Sunday schools to educate the children of the Industrial Revolution and was a champion of God's love toward the lost. He and his brother Charles considered the world as their parish. They evangelized the 18th century from Urban England and rural Britain, to the deep forests of the New World in Georgia and Caribbean Islands like Antigua.
Susanna Wesley, John and Charles' mother, is often identified as the 'Mother of Methodism.' It is fitting we learn more about her on Mother's Day. Ten of Susanna's nineteen children lived to maturity. One scholar described the Wesley children as 'a cluster of bright, vehement, argumentative boys and girls, living by a clean and high code, and on the plainest fare; but drilled to soft tones, to pretty formal courtesies; with learning as an ideal, duty as an atmosphere and fear of God as law.* Susanna's best legacy was indeed her children, particularly John.
Our new series is titled Heart Strangely Warmed. These are John's own words: 'In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."**
Join us Sunday for worship. We can celebrate all Christ has accomplished as we baptize three new lives into the Christian Faith, commemorate Mother's Day and perhaps find our own hearts strangely warmed.
Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish for spiritual things then it is sin for you, however, innocent it may be in itself. Susanna Wesley
*historyswomen.com, Susanna Wesley Mother of Methodism. Anne Adams
**ccel.org, Christian Classics Ethereal Library