Minister's Corner: A Message from
Rev. Steve Huntley
John Wesley, hymn writer and chief architect of the Methodist Movement (wasn’t called a church ‘til much later) outlined a way of professing issues of the faith. It was a four-fold method that included, tradition, experience, reason and scripture. Perhaps that sounds complicated but always remember, “there is nothing as practical as a good theory!” Let’s look at Christmas then, through the lens of Wesley’s theory.
We will soon, if we haven’t already, be preparing for the celebration of Christmas. While Easter remains the penultimate feast day in Christianity, it is Christmas which stands out on the calendar for many. Tradition plays a major part of Christmas. In preparation we pull out the Christmas tree, decorations, Christmas greeting cards, Christmas carols and the traditional Christmas turkey dinner. Attending church is also a tradition for many, even if they haven’t been regular in attendance. These traditions, and more, are a welcome part to the season and are eagerly anticipated.
Experience too plays a part. What is your experience of Christmas? While we collectively enjoy these traditions, each of our experiences of these events differ, and also our understanding of them. Some of us come from large families, some small (more room around the dinner table!) Others come from a different cultural and ethnic background, even rural and urban settings are a factor, and of course there are no two persons the same. Also, for some the experience of Christmas is not joyful but difficult and painful; the loss of a loved one or being estranged from family are often extenuating circumstances.
Reason, perhaps, may seem like an unusual factor. We need a reason for the season. Why do we celebrate in the way we do? Is it reasonable to celebrate in a way that costs money when finances are tight? Some reason that particiapating in communal acts of sharing, giving to the poor, helping at a dinner is the reason for the season and not commercialization. We can use our reasoning powers to asses this time of year and to forge different ways of celebrating.
Scripture is of course, critical. Without the Christmas Story there is no Christmas. Or said another way, unless we know about the story there is no Christmas, for a great many Christians have only a foggy understanding of the biblical story. How much of the story can you recite? Did you know that the greatest portion of the event is found in the Gospel of Luke? Why not try reading Chapters 1 and 2 together as a family or in private devotion this year? Ask yourself, “What is God trying to tell me and conversely the world in these verses? What is the larger purpose of the Birth of Christ to the whole New Testament and to God’s purposes?
This Christmas take time to celebrate Tradition, Experience, Reason and Scripture and may God bless you and your family through this annual holy and joyful celebration.
Rev. Steve Huntley