John Wesley was born on this day in 1703 and died in 1791. He started out as an Anglican priest and theologian but became the founder of Methodism. Along with his brother Charles, he was dissatisfied with the church of his time and was seeking a faith tradition that was ancient, biblical, and relevant to the lives of everyday people.
In 1738, Wesley had a mystical experience where he felt his "heart strangely warmed." Love rather than dogma became the basis of Methodism. Preaching and teaching this new path required prodigious patience, courage, and energy. "The whole world is my parish," he told people.
The Wesley brothers were prolific creators of devotional works. In John & Charles Wesley, Paul Wesley Chilcote has assembled an impressive collection of their writings (John published more than 400 books) and hymns (Charles wrote more than 9,000 hymns and sacred poems). Chilcote offers a cogent assessment of their work and vision:
"They taught and practiced a form of Christian discipleship that held together faith and works, personal and social holiness, physical and spiritual concerns, works of piety and works of mercy."
To Name This Day:
Prayers & Mantras
Try John Wesley's approach to prayer and work:
"Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you."
- Manage Your Money
"Gain all you can. Save all you can. Then Give all you can."
- Wise Ethical Wisdom
"Do all the good you can
by all the means that you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places that you can,
at all times you can,
as long as ever you can."
Select a favorite hymn or religious song to use in a worship service or ritual. Encourage participants to really let themselves go as you sing it together. John Wesley gave some very specific instructions for singing: "Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength."