A few Sundays ago as our Senior Pastor, Rev. Anne Rosebrock, prepared for retirement, she offered a sermon titled “Why I Am Still United Methodist”. She has served for over 30 years in this denomination. Even with all the challenges within and without of our denomination, she still remains passionate for this church she has served for so long.
She shared that our theology of grace, our openness at the Holy Communion table, and our service and outreach around the world keep her in this denomination. Despite our challenges as a global church, she still remains committed even into retirement.
Her sermon prompted my own reflection on my denomination. As I entered into the process to become a pastor, I had to reflect on what it meant to me to be not only a member of The United Methodist Church, but called to be a pastor and leader within this denomination.
Some of the themes below are from Rev. Anne Rosebrock’s message with some of my additions, but she did an excellent job of summing up Wesleyan theology and how we live that out. Here are a few reasons why we are still United Methodist:
- Grace– We are a people of grace, grace that goes before, ahead, and within. Wesleyan theology is founded upon the truth of God’s love and grace. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8: 39. That is the gift of God’s grace for us that is emphasized in our tradition.
- Holy Communion, Eucharist, Lord’s Supper– The gift of God’s grace is freely given in the sacrament of Holy Communion, where all of God’s children are welcome to receive. I have heard it said in many congregations, “This meal is not my meal or your meal, this is Jesus’ feast. Jesus invites everyone to this banquet.” This is another gift of our denomination, a welcome to everyone who comes forward to receive Christ in the bread and the cup.
- Personal and Social Holiness– Methodists have always been called to personal spiritual disciplines, but we are also called to speak up for social justice as well. It’s important that our denomination continues to speak up for systemic change for those on the margins of our communities; the poor, immigrants, the homeless, and discriminated. That’s our call to personal and social holiness.
- Service– There are Methodists serving others in the name of Jesus Christ all around the world. From rural villages in Africa, to soup kitchens in New York City, to medical assistance in Guatemala, to sharing Bibles in The Philippines; United Methodists serve others.
- Hope– While there are many disagreements among United Methodists, we still have the ability and responsibility to share the great hope that we have all experienced in Jesus Christ. I might add that many denominations have disagreements as well, but remain united. We are not unique in the fact that we don’t agree on everything. We can’t let issues distract us from the common hope we have found. In a world full of division, hate, and violence, Methodists have a great message of hope for the world; a message of grace, holiness, service, and hope.
Today, let’s give thanks for the work and message of all Christians around world, but let’s also give thanks for our United Methodist Church. Let’s be people of grace and hope, living into the great tradition of our faith.
Here is a copy of Rev. Anne Rosebrock’s sermon titled “Why I Am Still a Methodist” from Sunday, June 12, 2016: