Mary Fletcher was the first woman John Wesley permitted to preach in the 1770s. Her journals, diaries, and letters embody the largest collection of Methodist papers in existence with the sole exception of John Wesley’s papers. There are times I’ve wondered if a Lenten fast is nullified by Easter feasting. But in reading Mary Fletcher’s journals, noting the ebb and flow with which she made entries, I understood her seasons of profuse writing were not negated by the seasons of terseness.
“Providence does not mean that we have no free will. God’s providence does not rule out human freedom. Providence is not opposed to cooperation with God. Providence does not mean we are off the hook or that we have no sense of responsibility when it comes to spiritual growth. Rather, we cooperate with God as we grow in our faith by practicing spiritual disciplines or the means of grace.”
A wise art teacher used to say, “Make art that won’t be burnt up.” He meant, make art that will outlast the last judgment. Make art that will count as one of the “glories of the nations” brought into the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:26). Beauty attracts us, even when our reasons are unconvinced.
In his own weakness and suffering, Jesus learned yours. He knows of your suffering; he knows of your pain; the things you can’t tell anyone else, he knows them all. Whatever is your experience right now, today, we all are offered salvation.
As we practice the disciplines of submission and serving, we are freed from the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way, and we find the freedom to value and serve others.
I wondered how hungry the man was to steal an egg salad sandwich from a convenience store. I also wondered how he would have reacted to the customer’s kindness. He left without knowing his debt was paid. He was free to go. The food belonged to him.
There is a moment you stand on the brink, or the brink stands on you. The inexorable draw pulls you in, like gravity, like…
Jesus drew her out, asked her to tell her story. To speak words aloud, to share them with the crowd, to scatter her words like seeds.
Weeding and praying go hand in hand. I tug and clear and get dirty and think and talk to God and process my thoughts and feelings and listen to the birds and untangle morning glories. And God weeds my soul and cultivates my soil and could, like in the cemetery Easter morning, be mistaken for a gardener.
Today we encounter two men, Timothy and Epaphroditus, who have chosen to believe what Paul has taught them about joy. They don’t just believe it, they are putting into action the things they’ve learned. Their stories serve as perfect examples of how serving well leads to joy.