From the Minister’s Desk
This month’s article has been kindly written by Peter Charlton.
A group from Royton Methodist Church took a trip to Wesley’s Chapel in London during Lent. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, orchestrated the building of the chapel in 1778. Although we were unsure of what to expect, the trip turned out to be very encouraging. Here are a few of the highlights.
Firstly, we were given a tour of the chapel itself. It was the first Methodist church to be built specifically for the celebration of Holy Communion as well as for preaching services. These were both strong elements of Wesley’s faith. In his sermon on the means of grace, Wesley preached that “All who desire an increase of the grace of God are to wait for it in partaking the Lord’s Supper”. Preaching was not only confined to the chapel, but John Wesley spent his life travelling the country, preaching wherever he could find people to listen. The chapel follows in Wesley’s footsteps today, remaining an active church with a thriving, international congregation.
Secondly, we were given a tour of Wesley’s House, next to the chapel, where Wesley lived for the last eleven years of his life. Of course, the house is historically interesting – for instance, it was arduous to wash clothes, and they didn’t have irons, so after a day on the road one would brush the dirt off one’s clothes, and lay them flat in a drawer to avoid too many creases. However, we were most encouraged by a small room adjoining Wesley’s bedroom, where he would pray and read the Bible early each morning. Wesley placed utmost importance on prayer and scripture, writing that “serious and earnest prayer should be constantly used before we consult [the Bible]; seeing that ‘Scripture can only be understood through the same Spirit whereby it was given’” (Preface to Explanatory Notes on the Old Testament). We were left challenged to follow Wesley’s commitment to spending time with God.
Finally, whilst visiting the Museum of Methodism, in the crypt of the chapel, we were told more stories of Wesley’s life. We were encouraged all the more when hearing about the pamphlets which were written and distributed to tell the good news of Jesus; hearing how Wesley raised money through his university work, and continuously passed on great sums to be used to serve the poor; and hearing of Wesley’s heart-warming experience when he was assured that God had taken away his sins. It was testament that the God who raised Jesus from the dead also worked in Wesley’s life 1700 years later.
We left the chapel with quiet determination to persevere in faith, reassured of God’s calling on our lives both as individuals and a church.