Chains of Ingenuity
I’ve spent the last several months working on my expositions of the daily scripture readings here. That’s not all I’ve been up to though. Between working on several writing projects, one that is finished and in need of a publisher and another in the works, decided to jump back into my music a little more. Specifically, I’m working on a musical about the life of John Wesley, the celebrated founder of the Methodist movement from the 1700’s in England. There is more than enough drama and adventure in his life to pull a significant story from it, as some have already done in cinema, and many have done in books.
There is plenty of music in his life as well. His brother Charles was a prolific hymn writer of the time period and several of his songs are beloved and sung by us today. One of his most famous hymns is the Christmas Carol Hark the Herald, Angels Sing, which I hope to incorporate into the musical in a small way. Much of the music for his hymns have been rearranged over the years but his lyrics remain with us.
Why Wesley? With so many other church leaders, let alone the cast of powerful stories in the Bible itself, why focus on two brothers from the 1700’s? For one, they represent the original values of my own church tradition, a church that is going through (along with most churches) a significant time of discernment and deliberation right now. We, like the Anglican Church that Wesley belonged to, are going through a decline and are trying to rediscover our mission and purpose - or more specifically, how to live into the mission and purpose we already have. Meanwhile, the current Anglican Church has been trying out some of the very things that Wesley did 200 years ago and experiencing new birth. Maybe interaction with his story will inspire us anew as well.
We are also in the midst of some significant political change as well. I expect we will look back on this decade and the one to follow as a kind of launchpad for a new renaissance in the United States. I would love to claim that it will originate with us and travel the world from here, but some of this political change has already taken place in Europe, in places like England and France (that I’m aware of) and I am sure that this change is related to the political climates in Africa and Asia as well. We are seeing corruption float to the surface within and inside our media as well as our governing authorities, perhaps most significantly in places like Venezuela today, but we in the U.S. are not outside of that threat either.
Times are changing, and we cannot stop that. What impressed me about John Wesley was that, in his own changing times, he was sure to take note of the people on the sidelines. Indeed, it is arguable that he built his church from the ‘B’ team - those the churches of the day did not want. By remembering the people being left out, Wesley changed his own nation, one person, one link at a time, until he reached back across the Atlantic and transformed the newborn United States of America. Our founding fathers may have written our constitution and led us into battle, but it was Wesley and others like him who transformed the hearts of we the people, to create a Christ honoring culture at the beginning of our nation. It was not simple or easy then, nor is it now, but he was not afraid to take up the standard for Christ and fight for the souls of this world.
Trying to hear the music in the din of many voices.
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