I spent the weekend in Savannah, Georgia. I was the support person for my family members who ran the marathon and half marathon. It’s a pretty good job. You hold a bag of their stuff, find places on the course that you can walk to and cheer like
crazy when they run past. Afterwards, you get to eat a lot with them, like you ran the race, too.
On Friday my husband and I wandered around Savannah and took in the sights. We found our way to Reynolds Square where there is a very large statue of John Wesley. Wesley is the guy who got the Methodist Church started. While some visitors to Savannah
have to go to Paula Dean’s restaurant or take a riverboat cruise, since we are a couple of church nerds, the Wesley statue was our planned destination.
As we walked up to the statue, I was surprised by the awe I felt. Here was the big guy of our church, well…..so big. I looked up at Wesley and found myself talking to him. “We’re trying.” I said, “We’re trying.”
We walked around the statue and read the plaques. One titled, “John Wesley’s American Parish” gave a brief history of Wesley, Anglican minister, served as religious leader of the colony of Georgia from 1736-1737. The next sentence caught my attention.“His inclusive ministry sought to embrace both Native Americans and colonists.”
From before the beginning of our great church, the people called Methodists strived to include when it would have been easier to stay apart. Obviously this was an important part of Wesley’s ministry; after all it made it onto a plaque at a public park all these years later.
Why was it important to Wesley? Because it was important to Jesus.
Jesus ate with sinners, told stories about people reaching out of their traditional circles to help those around them and shared God’s love for all. Shouldn’t we do the same?
So, who do we embrace?
The young family that recently moved into the neighborhood? Teenagers searching for their place in this world? The children at Montclaire School who need something to help them grow in the summer? The teachers who spend hours planning creative lessons so kids will reach their potential? The Spanish speaking Moms who are
hungry for Bible Study and Christian Fellowship? Kids, some of whom live around us, rarely leaving the neighborhood, who are looking for ways to make a difference in the world? The older couple that have lived close by for years and years and now need some help getting around?
As Hebrews 12 reminds us, “Let us run with endurance the race set before us” and include and embrace those who are different from us. After all, isn’t that just about everyone?
I’m looking forward to Sunday, December 2nd when we open our arms wide, welcome our neighbors and celebrate the Advent Season with the first annual St. Andrew’s Christmas Tree Lighting. The event is from 3:30-5:30pm and will be packed with activities for all ages including a live nativity, Christmas music by our choirs, Christmas Treats and much more! Invite your family and friends. Bring the kids. Find a way to help out.
We’ll tap into our great church history to include and embrace all God’s children and cheer for everyone.