Each week Pastor Sarah blogs on the Scripture for Sunday's upcoming sermon. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
Each week’s blog post during SSUMC’s Not So Secret Agents of God Series will offer a reflection on Jesus’ Greatest Commandment; by faithfully living into – which means faithfully living out! –our Savior’s command to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength – friends, there is no way we will be secret agents of God!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ Acts 8:26-39.
Devotional Scripture ~ Mark 12:30 and Hebrews 4:12-13.
Of all the modes of how we are called to love our God, the soul is the most mystical. It is mystical because although the soul is part of us, it is beyond us. It is something otherworldly – an other – given to us in our creation – given to us by our God.
The soul refers to the breath of life that animates our beings. This breath is the breath of God – the breath that breathed life not only into us, but into all creation.
This breath is the root of our identity.
This breath is revealed in the art that we produce, in the ways we breathe in God and breathe out God’s love as we ascend to and embody Christ’s greatest commandment.
God gifts this breath to us to steward with the knowledge that one day we will be called upon to give an account of what we have done.
The primary question discussed at the Band gatherings of the early Methodists Societies was, “How is it with your soul?” In these small groups they did not shoot the breeze. They did not talk about the weather. They did not bemoan the horrendous escapades of their beloved sports team.
(Oh football…how I miss thee…I digress.)
Members of these small groups cut deep to the marrow of themselves and of their brothers and sisters: how is it with your soul?
Wesleyan Bands were homogenous groupings by gender, age, and marital status. Participants in the Bands desired to grow in love, holiness, and purity of intention. Gatherings were characterized by ruthless honesty and frank openness, and members sought to improve their attitudes, emotions, feelings, intentions, and affections through their participation.
Persons who participated in the Bands wanted to get to the root of their sin problem. They had curbed their bent toward outward sinning and now, through soul-searching examination, they wanted to completely transform their desire to sin in the first place. How would they go about doing that?
Through attending to the study of Scripture
Through receiving the Eucharist
Through consistent accountability for the ways in which they integrate God’s messages with their faith
One thing is for certain – the Early Methodists would not do this work alone. They walked with and alongside the church – and through their participation, God made them whole.
Consider your own soul. How is it? How do your current life choices mix with the breath that gave and gives you life? Does God’s teaching persuade you? Does God’s teaching nourish your inner being? Are your soul and God’s teaching like oil and water or like water and food coloring? Are they identifiable one from the other? Or are they mixing their way into one homogenous solution?
Though our souls are other, God desires that we would be one with them – that we would be one with God – and that we would apply ourselves with the vigor of the early Methodists to eliminating any stumbling block or addressing any issue that unsettles God’s breath within us.
How is it with your soul? And how could it be? Our answers to these questions accompany our transformations into overt agents of God.
Prayer: “I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory, how he gave his life on Calvary to save a wretch like me; I heard about his groaning, of his precious blood’s atoning, then I repented of my sins and won the victory. O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever! He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood; he loved me ere I knew him, and all my love is due him; he plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.”* Amen.
*“Victory in Jesus,” The United Methodist Hymnal 370.