I was invited by the good folks at Aldersgate United Methodist in Alexandria, VA, to be the Scholar in Residence last weekend — and it was everything we hoped for and more. Though I joked with them about preaching a sermon four times, what really came home to me again was my tribute to the pastors who preach multiple times each weekend. So, to Dennis Perry and Jason Micheli — my hat’s off to your labors in preaching. (And Wesley did that for more than forty years on average! Dennis to the left, Jason below.)
Here’s a sketch of what we did: Friday night we spoke to some leaders outside at a lovely home. I focused on ministering to 20somethings; Saturday night I preached on Jesus Creed, and did a variant on the Jesus Creed that the Lord prompted me as I was pondering and praying about speaking at Aldersgate. After the Sat evening service we had a public talk downtown Alexandria (Old Town) at the Athaeneum on engendering faith in your children — it was a first for me, there was lots of Q&A, and I hope helpful to everyone. On Sunday I preached three times and then on Sunday evening, after the church barbecue, I did a public talk on Mary and the Gospel. Fantastic Q&A again. Monday morning I was interviewed by Taylor Mertins about various issues pressing the church and ministry today.
Here’s a sketch of other things we did: Kris and I took long walks along the Potomac on the bike path along the George Washington Parkway — beautiful and humid! We visited historic Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, and were blown away by his leadership. More below…
We had breakfast with our old friend (as in number of years of friendship), Cheryl Hatch, to whom I dedicated The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible
I will talk tomorrow more about Aldersgate, so let me finish off with something we learned about General (President) Washington. The site has been much improved since we saw it 15-20 years ago; they’ve added a museum and an educational center. The home is always worth the visit, but as we finished the last room the guide said Washington was asked to be king or to be President for life, but he made it clear that the USA was committed to the principle of election by the people and for the people and he had served his time and it was now time for others. I immediately thought of how many leaders of note make decisions to surrender power and authority (if not the fame and honor) that easily and in such a principled manner.
Here is Washington’s (traditional) prayer for the country:
I now make it
my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State
over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he
would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a
spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to
entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another,
for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and
particularly for their brethren who have served in the
Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased
to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to
demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific
temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the
Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble
imitation of whose example in these things, we can never
hope to be a happy Nation.