the fifth page for January 10, 2011
In my Sunday sermon I said a bit about John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. It seems to me that one of the strengths of this movement in its early stages was the formation of classes of people who met regularly to offer each other nurture, encouragement , support, accountability and prayer. I talked about how the leader of a class might ask each member in turn “Is it well with your soul?”
This is a much deeper question than “How are you doing?” or “Some weather we’re having, hunh?”
There is a difference between the polite and casual conversations we often have, and the care of souls.
I mentioned on Sunday that often as I am walking around in the church before the service begins, or in the coffee time after, I see and hear conversations happening all around me. I don’t actually listen in. I am usually on my way to do something, or connect with someone. But on an emotional level, I often pick up the sense that important things are happening in these conversations.
I believe that one of the needs that is being met, to varying degrees, when people take part in the life of a faith community is to know and be known by other pilgrims- other people who are on their own spiritual journeys.
I wonder if there are ways that we can nurture this aspect of our shared life. Can we help each other know how to ask, and how to listen, and how to be present for people? Can we discover ways to make it more likely for people who are newer to our congregation to know and be known by others? (To the degree and with the intensity with which they are comfortable, of course.)
This would be a different kind of work than simply “welcoming” people- although we may need to begin with looking at, and thinking about how we do that!