Thursday, August 21, 2014

Things Methodists Should Know- 1

I am starting a series of blogs on: Things Methodists Should Know. Today I want to talk about the three books of Methodists. The first is, of course, the Bible. Any Christian denomination has the Bible as its main book. The founder of Methodism called himself “A man of one book.” The Biblical narrative is the basis of our common life together. We read the Bible on most every occasion, but especially in worship. The Bible is read and the preacher draws a sermon from the Bible. While you won’t find many Methodist “literalists”; we do take the Bible seriously. There are parts of the Bible which are meant to be taken literally; others are to be taken figuratively, or metaphorically. “Love your neighbor” is have to take any way but literally, though Methodists allow that Christians might find all kinds of different ways to fulfill that scripture. The Bible is the primary means by which we meet Jesus and learn of him and the Christian call to follow. The Second book is the “Methodist Hymnal”. Methodists have always been a singing people. John Wesley’s brother Charles wrote many hymns that we sings regularly. John was the preacher; Charles, the hymn writer. From early days, in a kind of revivalist tradition on the early frontier of this country, Methodists were singers. You will still find in most Methodist Churches a love for hymns, though the modern world wants more than that it seems. Methodist theology is worked out in our hymns: Love divine, all love’s excelling Joy of heaven to earth come down Fix in us they humble dwelling All they faithful mercies crown. Jesus, thou art all compassion, Pure, unbounded love thou art. Visit us with thy salvation Enter every trembling heart. Another great Methodist hymn is: “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”. If you been in a Methodist Church recently, you’ve probably sung out of the Hymnal. The third book, the one that most Methodists know little about is the Book of Discipline. This book is a history book in that it contains the story of our beginnings to the present day. It contains the theology of the church, and its growing attempts to speak on the issues of the day. It contains our form of government. All churches must have certain officers, but there is more freedom than ever to experiment with organizational structure. Our requirements for ordination and expectations of ordinands are there. The expectations of members of the United Methodist church are there as well. Some say that this is our law book, and there are laws and policies which we have to follow. But, more than that, The Book of Discipline is our book of Covenant. All Methodists in the world are governed by this book. We are in this book connected to every other Methodist anywhere. The first thing to know is that we have three books. Blessings! Dave Nichols

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