The month of May features prominently in the history of Methodism. John Wesley had his famous “heartwarming” experience on May 24, 1738 – just days after his brother Charles had had a similar experience on May 21 of that year.
Here’s the backstory: John and Charles Wesley, the co-founders of what would become the United Methodist Church, served as missionaries in the colony of Georgia in 1736. The voyage from England to America took four long months. The passengers were comprised of two main groups: folks from England and German Moravian Christians. Toward the end of the journey there was a third storm, more violent than the others. John related in his journal a life-changing experience they had while crossing the Atlantic:
“In the midst of a worship service the sea broke over, split the main-sail to pieces, covered the ship, poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming was heard from the midst of the English, but the Germans calmly continued to sing their hymn. Afterwards I asked one of them, ‘Were you not afraid?’ He answered, ‘I thank God, no.’ I asked, ‘But were not your women and children afraid?’ He replied mildly, ‘No; our women and children are not afraid to die.’
Deeply moved by the faith of the Moravians, John Wesley wrote, “It was the most glorious day I had ever before experienced.”
It would be some time before the Wesley brothers would experience that assurance of God’s unconditional love and acceptance for themselves, and be able to declare, with Paul, that
“… neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As we seek to follow Jesus and live according to his teachings, I pray that we all experience that heartwarming assurance that we are God’s beloved and that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love!
Blessings, Pastor Jeff