Rev'd. Denise Harding preached this evening, Wednesday 22nd January, as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - and used some words from John Wesley...
John Wesley's words, interspersed with my attempting to bake a loaf of bread at ecumenical service at Catholic Church tonight:
‘Give me your hand, my brother...’
John Wesley – Sermon on the Catholic Spirit
Do you show your love by your works? As you have time and opportunity, do you in fact "do good to all men," neighbours or strangers, friends or enemies, good or bad? If you are thus minded (may every Christian say, yes), if you are but sincerely desirous of it, and following on until you attain, then "your heart is right, as my heart is with your heart."
"If it be, give me your hand." I do not mean, "Be of my opinion." You need not. I do not expect or desire it. Neither do I mean, "I will be of your opinion." I cannot, it does not depend on my choice. I can no more think, than I can see or hear, as I will. Keep your opinion and I will keep mine, and that as steadily as ever. You need not even endeavour to come over to me, or bring me over to you. I do not desire you to dispute those points, or to hear or speak one word concerning them. Leave all opinions alone on one side and the other: only "give me your hand."
I do not mean, "Embrace my modes of worship," or, "I will embrace yours." This also is a thing which does not depend either on your choice or mine. We must both act as each is fully persuaded in his own mind. Hold fast to that which you believe is most acceptable to God, and I will do the same. I believe the Episcopal form of church government to be scriptural and apostolic. If you think the Presbyterian or Independent is better, think so still, and act accordingly.
I have no desire to dispute with you one moment upon any topic. Let all these smaller points stand aside. Let them never come into sight. "If your heart is as my heart," if you love God and all mankind, I ask no more: "give me your hand."
I mean, first, love me. And that is not only as you love all mankind, not only as you love your enemies or the enemies of God, those that hate you, that "despitefully use you and persecute you," not only as a stranger, as one of whom you know neither good nor evil. I am not satisfied with this. No, "if your heart is right, as mine with your heart," then love me with a very tender affection, as a friend that is closer than a brother, as a brother in Christ, a fellow citizen of the New Jerusalem, a fellow soldier engaged in the same warfare, under the same Captain of our salvation. Love me as a companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus, and a joint heir of his glory.
If I am ignorant or out of the way, love me (but in a higher degree than you do the bulk of mankind) with the love that is long-suffering and kind; that is patient, bearing and not increasing my burden; that is tender, soft, and compassionate still; that does not envy if at any time it pleases God to prosper me in his work even more than you. Love me with the love that is not provoked, either at my follies or infirmities, or even at my acting (if it should sometimes so appear to you) not according to the will of God.
Lastly, love me not in word only, but in deed and in truth. So far as in conscience you can (retaining still your own opinions, and your own manner of worshipping God), join with me in the work of God, and let us go on hand in hand. And you may certainly go at least this far, that you speak honourably wherever you are of the work of God by whomever he works, and kindly of his messengers. And, if it be in your power, not only sympathize with them when they are in any difficulty or distress, but give them a cheerful and effectual assistance, that they may glorify God on your behalf.
Written by the Minister & Members