Ah, this long anticipated family battle has finally arrived. Methodist Meltdown, Fratricide-apalooza, whatever you choose to call it, today's match-up will be epic. While they share a Collect, today the sibling rivalry will be bitter. A fitting end to the Round of 32 as tomorrow we kick off the Round of the Saintly Sixteen.
Yesterday, despite his impressive name, Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky lost to Harriet Bedell 63% to 37%. While he will be missed, those responsible for updating their church's poster-sized brackets will rejoice. Harriet will go on to face Thomas Gallaudet in the next round.
We recently heard a rumor that there are still some people who have not liked us on Facebook or followed us on Twitter. That seems impossible. In any case, it's time to vote between a heart "strangely warmed" and a "strange palpitation of the heart." If you find your own heart beating too fast with this heart-thumping saintly action, please call your cardiologist. The Supreme Executive Committee is of limited help in such matters of the heart.
It may not be completely fair to call John Wesley an overachiever, but he provides good reasons for making that case. An excellent student, John attended Christ Church, Oxford, where he and his brother Charles established the Holy Club. They were mockingly called the Methodists because they were so methodical about church attendance, Bible study, prayer, and service to the poor.
After they were ordained as Anglican priests, the Wesleys went to the primitive colony of Georgia where they failed to impress anyone, and John managed to get sued for breach of contract by his sort-of former fiancée. John came back to England utterly downcast.
While in the New World, John had become friends with Moravian missionaries. It was while attending a Moravian service in Aldersgate that John felt his heart “strangely warmed,” and he gained a new understanding of God’s grace. It is out of this Aldersgate experience that John rebooted his ministry.
He used his remarkable organizational skills to establish Methodist societies within the Church of England, though he was barred from preaching in most churches due to his evangelistic methods. He often traveled more than 4,000 miles a year–250,000 miles during his lifetime. He preached over 40,000 sermons, mostly in the open air to working class people. He published 233 books, receiving over £30,000 in royalties, most of which he gave to charity, including funds to establish the Kingswood School in Bristol.
Although he remained an Anglican priest throughout his life and did not intend to found a new denomination, his ordination of two lay preachers set the stage for the split of Methodism from the established Church of England.
He continued preaching until days before his death at age 88 in 1791.
Collect for John Wesley
Lord God, who inspired your servant John Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and endowed him with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in your Church, we entreat you, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known Christ may turn to him and be saved; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Charles Wesley was the younger of the famed Wesley Brothers, whose Methodist revival changed the shape of religion in eighteenth-century England. Charles was among the greatest hymn writers of all time, with over 6,000 hymns written during his ministry. Among his texts are such beloved hymns as “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending,” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” While often eclipsed by his elder brother, Charles Wesley was described by those who knew him as a “man made for friendship.”
Charles attended Christ Church, Oxford, where he and John gathered with close friends for regular communion, religious study, and prayer. Because of the group’s fastidious and structured habits, they were snidely called “Methodists” by their peers; the name stuck. Anyway, Charles was ordained in 1735 before going to serve as a missionary in the colony of Georgia, where he would preach and minister while also serving as the secretary to the colony’s governor. Charles found life in Georgia difficult and was often caught in the crossfire of his parishioners’ feuds; he returned to England after three years.
Charles experienced an inner conversion on Pentecost Sunday, May 21, 1738, at the home of the English Moravian John Bray. He described it as a “strange palpitation of the heart,” in which he gained the confidence and assurance of Jesus’ great love for him. His brother John’s famous Aldersgate experience would come three days later. The brothers would then go on to preach and proclaim that experience to all in England, especially in fields, factories, and under-churched populations.
As Methodism grew and experienced pressure from within to separate from the Church of England, Charles Wesley remained fiercely committed to avoiding schism from the church, which he lovingly called “the old ship.” Charles consistently and vehemently opposed any steps his brother John took which he saw as possibly leading to schism. Charles was not informed of John’s ordinations of Asbury and Coke in 1784 until after the fact, primarily to prevent him from intervening. On his deathbed, he wrote to the local vicar, saying: “Sir, whatever the world may say of me, I have lived, and I die, a member of the Church of England. I pray you to bury me in your churchyard.”
Collect for Charles Wesley
Lord God, who inspired your servant Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and endowed them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in your Church, we entreat you, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known Christ may turn to him and be saved; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
-- David Sibley
John Wesley vs. Charles Wesley
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