Tag Archives: Charles Wesley

Mothering: Susanna Wesley Style

Sermon for Mother’s Day, May 13, 2018.  Susanna Wesley is one of the figures included in the Church of Resurrection’s, Leawood, KS, stained glass window which has loosely tied the sermons together for the past several months.

            Just imagine where The Church would be without mothers.   Mothers have raised children perpetuating their culture’s faith foundation even before Jesus was born.  Looking at the COR window, the images include other mothers, too, but Susanna Wesley cannot be ignored within our tradition.

John Wesley learned his faith and developed his methods from his mother’s teaching.  He along with his nine other brothers and sisters including Charles, were raised in a devout Church of England family.  Their father was Samuel Wesley, a priest in the Church of England, who even left the family for a year simply over a political argument with Susanna.

The article from historyswomen.com quickly introduces Susanna Wesley as the Mother of Methodism:

As a wife and mother in a small 18th century English parish Susanna Wesley herself received little recognition for how she managed her household, raised and educated more than a dozen children and coped with a sometimes impecunious, idealistic and occasionally difficult clergyman husband. Yet from her personal influence and loving home came a son who would experience a spiritual awakening and use that inspiration to begin a ministry that would fill a void in the national spiritual life and also develop into a world wide church. Indeed, it might be said that the movement called Methodism had its foundations in the home of Susanna Wesley.  [Accessed on May 10, 2018.]


I have no idea if Mom and Dad connected my name with Susanna Wesley, but I do know that Mom certainly referred to Susanna after I had my two kids.  Susanna had ten children who survived beyond infancy, but I clearly remember one of Mom’s pieces of advice that I am sure is familiar to many:  “You need to give each one an hour.  Susanna Wesley had ten kids and she devoted one hour to each one.”

Now, I am not certain if that is completely accurate, but I did find a similar statement in historyswomen.com biography:  She gave each child individual attention by purposely setting aside a regular time for each of them.  [Ibid.] A second website, christianitytoday.com, added this statement: Susanna made it a rule for herself to spend an hour a day with each of the children over the period of a week.

One thing I do know is that Mom greatly respected Susanna Wesley and so did her own son.  My mom also told me how the family’s home burned and John almost died. The biography on christianitytoday.com also affirmed Mom’s references:

After the fire of 1709 family discipline broke down, but Susanna managed to restore it later. She paid special attention to John, who was almost lost in the fire. He referred to himself as “a brand plucked from the burning fire,” and his mother said that she intended to be more particularly careful of the soul of this child that Thou hast so mercifully provided for, than ever I have been, that I may do my endeavors to instill into his mind the disciplines of Thy true religion and virtue.  [Accessed on May 10, 2018.]


Today we honor our mothers, true; but consider where today’s church would be without Wesley’s mother.  She was the daughter of a priest, she married a priest, and she mothered a priest (remember John Wesley was ordained in the Church of England as a priest).  Her personal upbringing greatly influenced her mothering.  One can only speculate how the scriptures prepared her for that role.

Looking at the Old Testament, the wisdom of King Solomon is found in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon/SongsSurely Susanna knew these words well:

Scripture:  Proverbs 22:17-21

17 Listen to the words of the wise;
apply your heart to my instruction.
18 For it is good to keep these sayings in your heart
and always ready on your lips.
19 I am teaching you today—yes, you—
so you will trust in the Lord.
20 I have written thirty sayings for you,
filled with advice and knowledge.
21 In this way, you may know the truth
and take an accurate report to those who sent.


Proverbs are“short, concise sentences that convey moral truths,” as explained in the Life Application Study Notes.  These statements cover

“a range of topics, including youth and discipline, family life, self-control and resisting temptation, business matters, words and the tongue, knowing God, marriage, seeking the truth, wealth and poverty, immorality, and, of course, wisdom [defined as applying knowledge/facts to life]. [p. 1306]


As Susanna was raised in a religious home, she must have known these proverbs well.  In an UMC.org feature by Joe Lovino, a letter she wrote to John outlines her mothering tips. The tips are outlined in these categories:

  1. Religious education
  2. Education
  3. Order and Discipline
  4. Sleep
  5. Meals and Dining
  6. Manners


Reading through Proverbs 10-24, which is titled “Wisdom for All People,” many of Susanna’s tips seem to echo several proverbs.

Additionally, Susanna practiced self-discipline, too. In fact, her prayer life was extremely important, and I stumbled into one blog that discussed her use of a “prayer apron”:

When Susanna was young, she promised the Lord that for every hour she spent in entertainment, she would give to Him in prayer and in the Word.  Taking care of the house and raising so many kids made this commitment nearly impossible to fulfill. She had no time for entertainment or long hours in prayer!  She worked the gardens, milked the cow, schooled the children and managed the entire house herself.  So, she decided to instead give the Lord two hours a day in prayer!

She struggled to find a secret place to get away with Him.  So she advised her children that when they saw her with her apron over her head, that meant she was in prayer and couldn’t be disturbed.  She was devoted to her walk with Christ, praying for her children and knowledge in the Word no matter how hard life was. [Accessed on May 10, 2018 at http://sharonglasgow.com%5D

Certainly today’s mothers know the difficulty of finding quiet prayer time; therefore, let us quiet our own lives, consider throwing an apron over our heads, too, and spend some time in prayer:  (The practice in our church family is to join in a time of prayer during our worship, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.)

Reading through Susanna’s letter to John, provides today’s mothers solid advice on raising their families.  Even though few families have ten kids living in the one house, the wisdom of her motherly advice is worthy of review.

  • Religious education:

Devotions:  “The children of this family were taught, as soon as they could speak, the Lord’s prayer. . .

Worship and music:  “. . . the day began with reading or singing a psalm, reading an Old Testament chapter, and saying private prayers—all before breakfast.  At the end of the school day, they paired up to read a psalm and a New Testament chapter.”

Sabbath:  . . .The children “were very early made to distinguish the Sabbath from other days. . .”

  • Education

Focus:  School was 9-12 noon, and 2-5 pm

No goofing off:   “Rising out of their places or going out of the room, was not permitted unless for good cause. . .

Reading:  Each child was taught to read at age five. . .

  • Order and discipline

Routine:  a tight schedule. . . [with] times assigned for naps, education, meals, and bedtime.

Self-regulation:  Susana believed “self-will is the root of all sin and misery,” . . worked to help her children develop self-control.

Forgiveness  . . . never be punished for the same offense twice.

Peace  . . . household was not chaotic . . . much quietness as if there had not been a child among them. . .

  • Sleep

Bedtime  . . .all in bed by 8:00 pm whether they were ready for sleep or not.

Naps  infants . . . napped on a schedule. . .to bring them to a regular course of sleeping

  • Meals and dining

Dining  Mealtime was family time.

No snacking

Choosing meals  . . . expected to eat was served.

Medicine  . no problem when “. . . used to eat and drink what was given them”

  • Manners

Polite speech  be polite. . . [if] wanted something they were to ask

No lying  . . .if confess it and promise to amen, they would not be punished.

Respect for property  . . . taught to keep their hands off of another’s stuff. . .


Mothers all know the struggles to raise children, and Susanna was like all mothers yet today.  She knew how difficult managing a household can be much less homeschooling the ten children.  And among those ten children were two sons John and Charles Wesley.

The Church grew as John adapted his own organizational methods to take God’s message to those beyond the doors of the Church of England and even across the Atlantic to the United States

John’s brother Charles worked side by side with John and is accredited with writing so many hymns that appealed to the populace:

[Charles]was said to have averaged 10 poetic lines a day for 50 years. He wrote 8,989 hymns, 10 times the volume composed by the only other candidate (Isaac Watts) who could conceivably claim to be the world’s greatest hymn writer. [Accessed on May 10, 2018 at Christianitytoday.com]


Susanna’s motherhood was not easy.  Susan Glasgow’s blog summarizes Susanna’s motherhood:

A devastated home isn’t always apparent on first impression, is it? Susanna Wesley was married to a preacher.  They had 10 children of which, two grew up to bring millions of souls to Christ. That would be John and Charles Wesley.  It’s a powerful story if you stop there, isn’t it?

But, behind the door of her home, hopeless conditions were the norm.  She married a man who couldn’t manage money.  They disagreed on everything from money to politics.  They had 19 children.  All except ten died in infancy.  Sam (her husband) left her to raise the children alone for long periods of time.  This was sometimes over something as simple as an argument.

One of their children was crippled.  Another couldn’t talk until he was nearly six years old.  Susanna herself was desperately sick most of her life.  There was no money for food or anything.  Debt plagued them.

. . .One of her daughters got pregnant out of wedlock and the man never married her.  She was devastated, but remained steadfast in prayer for her daughter.


The Church continues through the efforts of mothers everywhere.  Susanna Wesley may be the mother of the Methodist denomination, but she is really the same as Christian mothers everywhere.  Her model of mothering includes the self-discipline of works of piety her son outlines:

  1. Reading, meditating and studying scriptures
  2. Prayer
  3. Fasting
  4. Regularly attending worship
  5. Healthy living
  6. Sharing our faith with others


The model of Susanna Wesley reflects much of the wisdom shared in the book of Proverbs.  As our opening scripture shares, we are . . .

17 Listen to the words of the wise;
apply your heart to my instruction.
18 For it is good to keep these sayings in your heart
and always ready on your lips.
19 I am teaching you today—yes, you—
so you will trust in the Lord.

Today, we can turn to Proverbs and share with others the wisdom, too.  If Susanna can do so, so can we.

[Distribute at least 30 proverbs among those in attendance and have them read them aloud to the others.]


Thank you to Susanna Wesley for her mothering skills.  Today, we can understand how challenging it is for mothers in our world by realizing that mothers have always managed life challenges.  The key is to study scripture and to raise our children the best that we can, teaching them the wisdom found in scripture.

Closing prayer:

Dear loving God,

Thank you for providing words of wisdom

as we find in the scripture.

Thank you for Susanna Wesley

raising her children in faith.


Guide us to continue following leaders

who live faithful lives  based on scripture.

Guide us to teach our children

to do all that they can for all they can.


May our efforts continue The Church’s work

carrying your story forward.

May our work demonstrate the true wisdom

in loving one another as we want to be loved.


Thank you for Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Thank you for Susanna, the mother of John.

Thank you for loving us, your children.


In your name,

In the name of Jesus Christ,

And through the Holy Spirit, amen.

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What a Difference Faith makes!

given on Sunday, August 7, 2016

Scripture connection: Hebrews 11:1-16, NLT

11 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.”[a] For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed[b] that God would keep his promise. 12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Key questions: Why difference does faith in God make in my life?

  • What does faith look like?
  • How do I develop faith?
  • How does faith change my life?


Reflection: What a difference faith makes!

             Surely you have noticed that it is August and there is something decidedly different about this August—it is as green and colorful as though it were still May, right after the April showers when everything looks bright green with an array of rainbow colors glowing in the sunlight.

August in the Midwest typically looks quite different—brown, brittle grass. Tired, worn out gardens usually struggle with little color left from the annuals planted around the walks or in flowerpots. The only thing that seems to do well is the spindly okra soaking up the sun and thriving on very little water. But not this year. This year our late summer world is green and colorful.

What a difference God’s rain and sunshine make in our world today. Farmers and gardeners know that planting seeds is an exercise in faith. The conditions that surround the seed and seedling are critical to the entire growing process. During the growing season, conditions vary dramatically, but somehow the majority of seeds does germinate, grow, and mature. The yield varies depending on the quality of the growing conditions that nurtured those crops to fruition.

Faith is much like the seed we place in the ground. Faith begins as a tiny little idea that dropped into our lives at any time. Sometimes the seed is planted by accident and sometimes it is carefully, lovingly placed by parents who know the difference faith makes in one’s life.

Yes, faith makes a difference in our lives; what type of difference depends so much on the circumstances, the challenges, the failures and the successes. Faith becomes a powerful force yielding the greatest reward imaginable—salvation and the life eternal alongside Jesus Christ and a host of faithful souls including those who have made a difference in our earthly journey.

In Hebrews, the definition of faith is given: Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. The verse is used so repeatedly that it has become a cliché and possibly has lost its value as a life-changing principle. Still, faith makes such a difference in the quality of one’s life.

Unfortunately, many cannot identify faith in their own lives and struggle to figure out what makes life journey fruitful. The Old Testament stories that are included in Hebrews 11 provide evidence of how faith supports even the most faithful during the most difficult trials. The stories begin with Cain and Able and continue through even the books of the prophets.

Still understanding faith today is difficult. Because faith is not a product that one goes to a store or gets on line to purchase, faith sometimes fails to be planted in our lives. Maybe our parents did not plant faith’s seed because they were not equipped to plant and nurture that seedling. Perhaps the parents did plant the seed, but then the environment or circumstances interfered and the seed of faith sat fallow, not germinating but remaining as a faint promise.

Today faith is evident around us even though many argue that is not. Evidence of faith may not sound like the Old Testament or even the New Testament stories, but they are listed there, too. Consider the stories of the woman who had such strong faith in Jesus’ healing power that all she wanted was to touch his robe in order to heal. And her faith did heal her. Lazarus’s family believed and Jesus raised him from the dead.

Even the circumstances of the Last Supper paint a picture of how the brutal ending of Jesus’ life fueled the earliest Christians to band together and carry God’s message forward. Those disciples who shared the bread and the cup with Jesus certainly had their faith challenged, but despite the negative growing conditions, the church did grow.

Faith is essential to the quality of our lives. Faith is a seed sitting there just waiting to grow. We need to know that we are equipped to nurture that faith and encourage it to grow to fruition so God can harvest it when the growing season ends.

How does faith grow? The directions are sprinkled throughout the Bible. We must read and study the Bible in order to fertilize our faith. John Wesley was educated and still he struggled to understand how faith operated. His own brother served as an agent of change for Wesley. John and Charles were both raised in the church, and it took Charles’s recommendation to continue in reading the Bible and praying. And John did. He placed himself into a disciplined environment and continued his ministry right up until his personal moment of enlightenment referred to as his Aldersgate Moment when he felt his heart ‘strangely warmed.’

Life is going to challenge each and every one of us in ways that we cannot predict. Watching the Olympics opening ceremonies, I was reminded how unifying the games can be. The inclusion of a team of refugees is a testimony in faith. The discipline of Olympian athletes is often a quality reflected in their lives whether on or off the competition. The discipline carries them to the finish line and the refugees maintained that discipline even when they had no country, no alliance.

We have the tools to grow faith, we just must be disciplined enough to do it. Wesley explained that we are to practices the acts of piety and the acts of mercy to develop the fruitfulness of faith. We are to join in fellowship with other Christians to worship, to pray, and to serve together.

Faith is knowing that God is with us throughout the challenges in our lives and trusting that we will receive the ultimate reward. Faith is knowing that we can manage the ups and downs in life because God is with us always.   Faith takes work but it is easier to do when working together with others who believe.

Today we join together at the table to renew our connection to God through the bread and the cup. We are practicing the very same methods God taught the first disciples to strengthen our faith. May the ancient words from scripture, from the liturgy, from the hymns, and from those around us so we may find the peace, the joy, and the contentment that enriches our faith-filled lives.

Closing prayer:

Dear loving Father,

Thank you for the words of encouragement shared in the Bible.

Thank you for the guidance of the faithful surrounding us.

Thank you for your patience as we struggle to understand faith.

Fill us with the Holy Spirit as we share in the bread and the cup.

Fill us with the joy of knowing your grace and your love.

Fill us with the courage to battle the challenges to our faith.

May we take our faith and use it to share your grace with others.

May we demonstrate our faith so others may see it in action.

May we lead others to identify the power of faith in their lives, too.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen


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May I introduce our mother, Susannah Wesley

given on May 11, 2014–Mother’s Day


Today I would like to introduce you to a very special mother, Susannah Annesley Wesley. She was born January 20, 1669, the youngest in a family of 25 children. She married Samuel Wesley and had 17 children including John and Charles. She was the mother of the Methodist Church and not just because she gave birth to these two founders of Methodism.

During her early years, she witnessed the persecution of the clergy involved in the protestant reformation.   Her father himself was removed from his parish. Susannah made her own observations about the church and its doctrines. When she met the Samuel Wesley, whose father also was removed from his parish during the reformation, they shared a passion for their religious principles. One biography, illustrates this and it can explain the foundation of her mothering philosophy:

“Before I was full thirteen,” Susannah says, “I had drawn up an account of the whole transaction, under which I had included the main of the controversy between them [the dissenters] and the Established Church, as far as it had come to my knowledge.” She was “early initiated and instructed in the first principles of the Christian religion,” and had a “good example in parents, and in several of the family.” In girlhood she “received from the heart the form of doctrine” from her father’s lips. When asked by one of her children for a rule as to diversions she replied that her own rule as a girl was never to spend more time per day in worldly pleasures than she was willing to spend in private devotions. [Accessed on May 8, 2014 at www.faith2power, quoting from William Horton Foster, “Susannah Wesley,” Heroines of Modern Religion, ed. Warren Dunham Foster, (New York: Sturgis & Walton, 1913)


This attitude and self-discipline developed into the 16 House Rules Susannah used in her own home. [These are outlined in the bulletin.]

  1. Eating between meals not allowed.
  2. As children they are to be in bed by 8 p.m.
  3. They are required to take medicine without complaining.
  4. Subdue self- will in a child, and those working together                             with God to save the child’s soul.
  5. To teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak.
  6. Require all to be still during Family Worship.
  7. Give them nothing that they cry for, and only that when asked                     for politely.
  8. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed                             and repented of.
  9. Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished.
  10. Never punish a child twice for a single offense.
  11. Comment and reward good behavior.
  12. Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed                                           should be commended.
  13. Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters.
  14. Strictly observe all promises.
  15. Require no daughter to work before she can read well.
  16. Teach children to fear the rod.  [Accessed on May 8, 2014 at http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org/2011/03/16-house-rules-by-susannah-wesley-john.html]


Reading through Susannah’s biography and then the 16 rules, the parallels to the Old Testament’s Proverbs are impossible to ignore. The Old Testament lessons supporting the Old Covenant long have served as the foundation for the world’s Judeo-Christian lifestyle—sociological, political, and even economical. The reformation that served as the cultural setting for Susannah and Samuel Wesley did not battle the doctrine as much as the political manner into which the church had evolved.

The New Covenant coupled with the child-rearing advise of Proverbs created the very core of Methodism. The 16 House Rules outlines strong parenting skills that today are sadly lost. Working with the at-risk students, these rules are seldom found in their homes—at least most of them.

Even as one brought up in a very traditional Methodist home, these rules were lived more than taught. Looking back at my personal parenting experience, I know that I never had a clear list of rules to follow. I felt so inadequate despite the traditional Methodist upbringing I experienced. Thank goodness my upbringing was based on the same foundation of Methodism Susannah Wesley established for her children.

The words of wisdom found in scripture can provide guidance for today’s mothers and fathers just as soundly as it did for the models of faithful followers throughout the Old Testament, the New Testament, and even leaders throughout history.

One piece of advice my own mother gave me as a struggling new parent was to give the kids my time. In fact, she referenced Susannah Wesley. With 17 children of her own, Mom told me that she gave each one an hour of one-on-one attention. It was a rule. Needless to say that a full hour for each of the 17 probably did not really happen, but while reading the biography the base of this motherly advice appeared:

Her system of moral instruction was equally definite. “I take such a proportion of time,” she writes, “as I can best spare every night to discourse with each child by itself, on something that relates to its principal concerns. On Monday, I talk with Molly; on Tuesday, with Hetty; Wednesday, with Nancy; Thursday, with Jacky; Friday, with Patty; Saturday, with Charles; and with Emilia and Sukey together on Sunday.”


Try as I might, giving an uninterrupted hour to each of my children was tough. Yet, today the wisdom of that advice does make sense. And after reading Susannah’s own explanation from her biography, I can see that the intention was not 60 minutes, but time and attention, a form of motherly devotion that in today’s world is frequently ignored.

Continuing to introduce Susannah Wesley could take way too long today. The biography includes so many quotes and anecdotes that could be shared with mothers everywhere and can explain the principles of Methodism. It becomes evident how John Wesley became so driven, so passionate about serving one another in the name of the Lord.

Meeting Susannah Wesley is meeting the wisdom of God. Meeting Susannah Wesley is meeting our mother in faith. Meeting Susannah Wesley can be like meeting our own mothers, too. Meeting Susannah once is not enough, just like mothering is not ever a finished job:

Mrs. Wesley’s education of her children was not a purely juvenile task, undertaken preparatory to the work of the schoolmaster who might later succeed her. She conceived her duty toward each child as stretching from birth until death. With constant counsel, she followed her sons’ courses through college and into the ministry. Her advice was not simply on questions of personal conduct but on questions arising out of their studies and work.


Today, Mothers’ Day 2014, we all know that a mother’s job is never done. Susannah knew that, too, and even until her death in July 1742, while living with son John, the biographer includes this statement:

Her last request was: “Children as soon as I am released, sing a psalm of praise to God!” As they had honored her in life, so they obeyed her in death. Gathered about her bedside they forced back their grief as the anthem of her release and of their love swelled to triumphant notes. And well might the anthem be triumphant, for Susannah Wesley had so played her mother-part in the drama of Epworth Parish that she gave to the world-not to Methodists alone-a new freedom of large faith, a new democracy of vital religion, and a new intimacy with God.


What a testimony to faith and to motherhood! Meeting Susannah Wesley renews our admiration for the work of our mothers even today. For those with only memories of mothers, or for those of still mothering despite the ages of the sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, or even the greats and the great-greats, happy mother’s day. May you be blessed by the grace of God for all you have done.

Closing Prayer:

            Dear Heavenly Father,

            We thank you for all the love and grace your daughters share

            as mothers, grandmothers, aunts, great-aunts, and the great-grand             dames of our families.

            Thank you for a mother like Susannah Wesley who bore

            her son John and 16 other children into a world of reformation.

            Thank you for all the words of wisdom shared in the scripture

            and through the words of mothers throughout time.

            Let us share the love we receive from you and all your mothers

            with the grace demonstrated even in the most difficult of times.

            Let us teach the generations to come the same lessons

            taught in Proverbs, in the letters of the disciples,

            and in our mothers’ words.

            May we find the power of unconditional love for one another

            in all that we do, for as long as we can, whenever we can

            to the glory of You, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

            Amen, amen, amen!

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God’s Gifts: Baby Jesus

given on Sunday, December 29, after an ice storm canceled the Dec. 22 service 

            Journaling is a dying art, yet it is so important for sociologists in their studies of humanity.  It is also key to historians as they search for secrets of what happened in different time periods.  For families, discovering a journal from a previous generation is a rare and priceless gift.

Opening up the gospel of Luke, his own words show that this book is much like a journal incorporating his personal experience and study of Jesus’ ministry.  The audience is clearly defined as Theophilus, a personal friend whom he is trying to share the story in an honest, logical manner.

Imagine how his family, his grandchildren, and even generations later must have felt that their patriarch knew Jesus, had walked the paths where Jesus walked.  And imagine how we, over 2,000 years later, feel if Luke had not written his thoughts about Jesus.  Does this journal provide the foundation for lasting faith?

Personally, much of my understanding of who I am is based on the words of people who reported what their lives were.  Reading journals, biographies and autobiographies, paints a picture of the generations that preceded me.  I am a product of generations and reading their words shapes who I am.

Luke was educated, he had opportunities that others might never have had, still he had a story to tell.  The words we read today are the words translated generation after generation as his story continues to reach out to others like Theophilus.  The question we must each ask ourselves is whether or not we have shared the first Christmas story with our family and friends.

Luke said it so clearly:

1 Many people have attempted to write about the things that have taken place among us.  . . .  I myself have carefully looked into everything from the beginning. So it seemed good also to me to write down an orderly report of exactly what happened. I am doing this for you, most excellent Theophilus. I want you to know that the things you have been taught are true.

Are we able to say we have done the same thing?  Have we felt driven to provide those in our lives The Story?

Over the past 25 years, I have struggled to continue the faith story of my parents.  I never questioned our weekly schedule of church on Sunday, choir on Wednesday, or even the daily grace given at the table every time we sat down as a family meal whether breakfast, lunch or supper.  My parents simply placed God in our lives almost like He was a physical family member.

Luke writes The Story in a manner that reaches out to me.  He makes the story come alive and his arguments convinces readers of the reality of Jesus, of the lessons Jesus taught, and the historical record of this man’s life—born, lived, and destroyed—alongside the Israelites and the Gentiles, not to mention world citizens traveling and moving around a vital economic center during that time period.

Who has written The Story since Luke’s gospel?  Are there journals to read since that time that continues teaching the generations about Jesus, about the New Covenant God made through the life of Jesus?  Can we continue to see the effect of The Story has made on humanity?

The research continues, but the answer is yes.  Sometimes the horror created by un-Christian decisions crowds out the story of God’s love, but even when humanity is at it worst, God’s love remains.  The only way is to study, to seek out the Christian story and learn how it continues to sustain humanity.

Luke’s story shares an eloquent narrative of the Messiah’s birth.  It is artfully written, has been translated and preserved as closely as possible to its original language.  And even the most gifted historians, linguists, sociologists, anthropologists, and authors continue to weave The Story through the generations, the centuries, or even the millenniums.

Today we have a responsibility—to continue telling the story.  Not only do we have to live our faith privately and publically, we have to tell the story.

Telling the story does not have to be difficult, but we need to step it up.  The results are worth it.

First, live your faith openly.  I was shocked this month to hear myself wishing family, friends, and even store clerks and others a “happy holiday.”  I realized that for over 30 years, I had trained myself to say “Happy Holiday” rather than “Merry Christmas.”

Why?  I actually had to face the fact that as a teacher, I had lost Christmas because I was told to be politically correct.  Once I realized it, I had to consciously work on changing it.  I would off-handedly respond “Happy Holiday” and then as I said it, stumbled and shifted to “Merry Christmas.”

Secondly, establish a weekly routine that places God first.  Think about scheduling church attendance, Bible study, or additional faith appointments before other time commitments.  Our culture is reflecting the lack of prioritizing faith by the scheduling of sporting events before church events.  No longer do school systems or other family events schedule around church.  Now church is scheduled around personal time choices.  We do not stand up and refuse to participate just because something is scheduled at a faith related commitment.

Thirdly, on a daily basis, do we live our faith 24 hours seven days a week?  Do we wake up and hear the verse echoing in our minds:  “Today is the day that the Lord has made, be glad and rejoice in it!”  Do we offer a table grace when we sit down to a meal—or do we skip the table and go straight to the couch potato position with the television blaring?  Do we close our day with an evening prayer asking forgiveness, for healing, for supplication or just thanks for the day.

And finally, consider Luke’s method—he used written word to continue telling the story.  We can do the same thing, even if it is a simple entry into a personal journal that can be read and shared and read again.  Maybe it does not seem important, but it is.  Who knows who might find that journal and read a life-changing message from it.

And this is a task I need to train myself to do.  I used to journal, I encouraged my mother to journal, now I have an aunt who has used a journal/planner, and now I work to have others begin a journal too.  This is a simply way to account how faith works in your life.

Journaling may not be something you are comfortable doing, but stop and consider how you can preserve and share how faith works in your life.  Maybe it is a record of blessings, maybe the calendar can hold key words to trigger memories.  Maybe it is the camera whether on the phone you carry or the tablet you use, or the photos you place in a scrapbook or album.

Luke wrote his faith in two books, the Gospel of Luke and Acts.  Through the ages, others have written their faith, too.  John Wesley, Martin Luther, Charles Wesley—in his hymns, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Corrie ten Baum, Anne Frank, Billy Graham, Max Lucado, Adam Hamilton, Bishop Schnase, and more.  We might not be gifted authors, but we have a story to tell.  Who knows when the next generation will find the record of faith we each have to share.  Our faith is our life, and it is our responsibility to live it and to share it.  It is our gift to the future to share the story of God’s gift, the baby Jesus.

Closing prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for Luke, for all the gospels, for the Bible

that tells the story of your gifts from creation to the birth of a baby.

Thank you for all those disciples who carried the story into action

modeling lives that were filled with love and compassion.

Thank you for all those early followers who carried the Story

into new generations, into new lands, and into the future.

Lead us to reading the Story over and over again

so our generations learn to love one another.

Lead us to tell the Story to our families, to our friends, and to others

in order to learn the way to live our faith openly.

Lead us to preserve the Story as our generations pass it on

to the generations ahead keeping faith alive.  –Amen.

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