John Wesley’s Rule
Do all the good you can,
by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can,
at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’ He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’ Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.’
Seeking Christ in the least of these through service and mission is an extension of the hospitality that welcomes everyone as someone that Christ died to redeem. John Wesley included this in his prayer for Monday morning:
Do not let me exclude even one, O Lord, from your love
for all are to receive your works of mercy.
Let me treat all my neighbors with that tender love
that is due to your servants and your children.
This is the love you have commanded me to do!
For if I fail to love even one of my neighbors,
it exposes to your sight my ingratitude,
and I forfeit your loving kindness in my life,
which I need more than life itself!
We can think of the results of what we do in service and mission by the dollars and hours spent, and quickly become discouraged. The world makes it clear that we do not have enough money or resources on our own to fix all the problems that dehumanize and divide all the children of God. The world may see our efforts as tiny and insignificant; yet, Jesus calls us to see our Spirit-enabled work as mustard seeds and yeast. There are countless stories in our faith tradition of simple ideas of compassion and service becoming something much greater than any one else could have imagined. Blankets for babies may have been the seed that became a major hospital. An after-school program for children may have been the yeast for a comprehensive program of therapy, education, and life skills for troubled teenagers. A kind word and a helping hand may not seem like much in the moment, and it may not even be thankfully received, yet it may be the seed that will later grow and make that person or community receptive to the working of the Holy Spirit in changing their lives.
Our service and mission to others is the incarnation of Christ, for without this discipline we only have evidence of the forms of godliness in our lives, but we do not have evidence of the power of godliness. Sermon 19 reminds us that there is an appropriate time to let our light shine before others, remembering that we are not to take any credit for the good that is being done. We can do no good at all, except that God does the good through us.
Remembering this is important for doing service and mission, for it keeps our service from becoming divisive, as it separates people into “us” and “them.” William Law wrote, “And let it always be remembered, that if any distinction of life makes men forget that sin is their only baseness, and holiness their only honor; if any condition makes them less disposed to imitate the low, humble estate of their suffering Master, instead of being any real advantage, it is their curse, their snare and destruction. . . . All other hatred of sin, which does not fill the heart with the softest, tenderest affection towards persons miserable in it, it is the servant of sin at the same time that it seems to be hating it.” It is just another way of saying “we love, because God first loved us.”
Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897)
there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of you.
Christ has no
body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.