recapturing the wesleys’ vision 6

Here are my notes for chapter 6, “Spiritual Nourishment: Pulpit and Table,” in Recapturing the Wesleys’ Vision by Paul Chilcote.

1. “I am hungry, and I need to be fed at two tables–the table of the word and the table of the sacrament” (a Kempis; p. 80). The Wesleyan revival was balanced in spiritual nourishment–being both evangelical (exalting the Word) and eucharistic (exalting the Sacrament). The preaching and teaching was about proclaiming Christ and teaching the faith instructively and devotionally. And the sacramental practice was about encountering the presence of Christ (We describe it as Christ’s “real presense” and as a “holy mystery”) experientially. This connection “has been the hallmark of virtually every movement of Christian renewal” (p. 81).

 

2. Pulpit: Word. Wesley believed strongly in the essential place of the Word of God in the life of the Christian and the Church. The power of the Word in the life of ordinary persons in the Methodist Movement related to three practices for how to read the Bible: (1) As “a letter from a close friend,” (2) reading “the whole text, slowly,” and (3) through what we would call “praying the Scriptures” (p. 83).

  

3. Table: Sacrament. Chilcote makes three main points about Communion and the Wesleyan revival: (1) It displays that the gospel is somehow both immediate and mediated (p. 85), (2) It is both a means of individual grace, and an important social symbol that connects us with both God and one another (p. 86), and (3) the “Lord’s Supper always faithfully proclaims the Word (p. 86). Wesley also understood it to be not only a means of “confirming grace” and of converting someone too (p. 87).

 

4. Bridging Word and Table. The early Methodists’ “immersion in Scripture made the link to the sacrament clear and strong” (p. 84). Unlike modern American Christianity in which we seem to see churches emphasizing the Word as de-emphasizing the Table Sacrament and vice versa, the Wesleyan movement’s history entailed a strong emphasis on both of these. This could be recovered even more strongly in our day, and it remains something that the heirs of Wesley could lead the greater church in: robust, biblical sermons paired with deep, meaningful communion at the Table.

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