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The Haven Sermon Review

Being Christian is very difficult. Really. It requires openness to new people-the stranger, the immigrant, the outcast and, to new ideas. Not only that, we are commanded to love our neighbor in Matthew 5:43-48, one of our readings this Sunday. You have got to be kidding me, Jesus, like really, love our neighbors? Not wish harm on them, or do harm against them? A rule often misquoted as John Wesley’s is, nonetheless, worthy for our conversation: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” And that, painfully so, includes our enemies. But, welcoming everyone is the commandment. Jesus sought out the societal outcasts to restore them to community.

We are called to a holy life, especially in Methodism. John Wesley understood the Gospel message that we provide for others and continue to grow in grace toward perfection. This requires thoughtful, intentional study, communication, prayer, service, and worship. Holy conferencing developed as one of the ways Wesley resolved conflict within the church. He understood the Christian church would not be without conflict, and devised a way to do this in a neighborly fashion. The Bishop Sally Dyck explains: “’Holy Conferencing is what we call the spirit and principles that guide us to be caring in our conversations-that is what makes them holy...It is a means for staying connected to one another in spite of our differences’”[1] We can disagree and still have genuine, loving conversation. She ends with: “No wonder that John Wesley said that Christian conferencing is a means of grace for it puts us in the position of growing in spiritual maturity...we [will] practice our faith in ways that challenge us spiritually as well as relationally.”[2]

This is how we move toward being a holy people, and modeling it for the community. The entire Bible illustrates that we often fail, but that God can always use our failures for the good, if we are open to the “nudgings of the Holy Spirit.”[3]. God’s nature is grace. And of course, the condition for grace, is love.


[1] Bishop Sally Dyck, The United Methodist Church, “Eight Principles of Holy Conferencing: A Study Guide for Churches and Groups, (Minneapolis, MN, 2012), 1.

[2] Ibid., 15.

[3] Self-quote from conversation at the Haven Café, February 12, 2018.

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