In a few weeks, I will be ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church, and there is a connection to Aldersgate Day which falls on May 24 this year. We will remember the day in worship on Sunday, May 22, 2016.
Part of my long spiritual journey through time was a trip through place to the UK, which included a stop at Aldersgate in London in April 2016. Many visiting London may not see Aldersgate as a critical destination but United Methodists visit the location as part of a Methodist pilgrimage.
It was at Aldersgate in 1738, that John Wesley, the founder of the Methodism, experienced the Holy Spirit. Wesley described his transformation:
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
During my brief time at Aldersgate, I reflected on how the Holy Spirit is central to my theology and experience.
Photos Dianne Glave
Video by Jeffrey A. Vanderhoff
Edited by William Jacka
Grace . . . Coventry Cathedral . . . A Stranger . . . Pizza . . . Love
In the City of Coventry, I hadn’t planned to be on the lookout for grace, for love. Yet I witnessed and experienced many manifestations of love: God’s love and the love humanity has for one another.
Coventry Cathedral is a place of forgiveness. I think one of the most profound ways to express love is through forgiveness expressed at the cathedral. In World War II, the Germans bombed the city destroying much of the cathedral. The remnant of the old cathedral remains with a second newer building added. The new building is a reminder that love and forgiveness is possible even when we are destructive symbolized by the remains of the old bombed cathedral.
I also experienced grace seated during the litany in the new cathedral. A man asked if he could sit next to me. The old Dianne would have looked around and said, “There are 40 other empty seats back there. Use one of them.” Instead, I said yes as I sat uncomfortably next to a strange man. Almost immediately, I began to think differently: he might be the sort who doesn’t like to sit alone in church. At the end of a brief litany, I was about to speak to him and he was gone. Rather than thinking I was so kind, I realize the man showed me grace sitting with me during a brief service sharing sacred time.
Later, some of us went to lunch in the Coventry City Center. We had more than enough, sharing our food. Towards the end of the meal I bought a pizza, which I offered to my traveling companions. As we were leaving, a man with a long scar down his face came to our table assuring us he was not a drug addict but needed help. A member of the group was about to grab the last slice but instead offered it to the stranger. He gladly took it. Grace . . . Love.
“The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation” that we read responsively draws from scripture bringing together the various strands of the day: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgive you.” That’s grace. That’s love.
Photos by Dianne Glave