The three graces

June 24, 2021

Dear Saints of Trinity,

This Sunday we have a special guest. I have to say that she looks amazing given her age. She was born on January 20, 1669. No, you didn’t misread that. I said 1669. She is the mother of the founder of our denomination, although he never called it a denomination. He always saw it as a movement within the Anglican tradition. His name was John Wesley. John also had a brother. Okay, he had a number of brothers (and sisters), but there was one in particular that we know well. His name was Charles. He was a deep thinker like John, but expressed those thoughts in a different way. John’s expressions came in letters, journals, and sermons. Charles expressed himself in music; hymns to be more accurate. And it is Susanna, who will be our guest this Sunday, their mother.

This will be the first Sunday of a series that will last much of the summer. We’ll be exploring the underlying meanings of what it means to be Methodists; particularly a United Methodist Church. I’ve spent most of my life in this denomination with some side trips to Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Church of God, and a few non-denominational churches. I came back to Methodism because of the foundations of what John and Charles sought to bring to the world. One example is the inscriptions on the outside of our sanctuary doors.

John came up with four pieces of faith; four elements that need to come together to create a healthy and whole expression of faith. They included scripture as the basic foundation for all that we do; tradition going back to the early church as the most basic outline for what a Body of Christ is to be; experience, all of those personal experiences that come together to make us the Christians we are; and finally reason. Reason allows us to bring all of the other elements together. Wesley wanted followers to be deep thinkers, committed to growth and formation throughout their lives. It’s the combination of these elements that sets him apart from so many of his contemporaries.

John believed that God would come to us in three distinctive ways throughout our lives. He called these the three graces.

The first was prevenient grace; a grace that goes before us, surrounding us, introducing us to God’s presence in people and circumstances, a grace that sought to bring us closer to God and the formation of an initial relationship with our Creator.

The second he called justifying grace, a grace that comes in that moment when we commit our lives to Christ and choose to live into that relationship every day.

The third he called sanctifying grace; that love and relationship that takes us deeper into that relationship with God and the relationships we have with each other. This, for Wesley, was a cycle. We move in and out of that relationship but God is always there seeking to bring us back. He believed that the primary role of the church was to do the same. It’s why he formed small groups in every church he started, so that followers would have others to turn to in times of loss, joy, and concern. Charles then wrote hymns that related to everything I just shared, including this next piece.

Finally, they believed that there was one more combination that made us whole as followers. It was first in what I just described. He called it acts of piety. In other words, making sure that we remained in that close relationship with God in Christ. To do that opened up the second piece of Christian balance. In our practice of piety, God would reveal to us those places where God needed us to offer what Wesley called acts of charity. In other words, involvement in the communities that surround us, and involvement that could and would be transformational.

These are a few of the elements we’ll explore this summer. But before we get into those, don’t miss meeting the mother of John and Charles this Sunday. We’ll see you in church.

Pastor Brad

Let’s take care of each other as potentially record-breaking high temperatures are predicted for this weekend, beginning Friday. Be sure to drink plenty of water and check on your neighbors and friends.

Some Concerns that we have:

  • Please keep the family and friends of Rev. Jack Anderson, former pastor of Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, in your prayers at his death. Memorial service on Saturday, July 10th, 2 pm at DVLC.
  • Gary Nichols and family at the death of his wife, Lelia. Note: The memorial service for Lelia will be here at TUMC on Tuesday, June 29, 1 pm.
  • For those who continue to go through physical struggles, those who are dealing with cancer, or other health situations. For those who are emotionally feeling lost and alone.
  • For all those who are ill from the COVID-19 virus; for those families who have lost loved ones to the virus; for essential workers; and for those who haven’t been vaccinated yet.
  • For peace in our country.
  • For Katherine Parker, missionary to Nepal.