An attempt to bring Wesley into the 21st Century.

by Jacob Juncker

I’m leading a new study at Christ United Methodist Church as part of our Tuesday night Together program on the book Reclaiming the Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today.  For those that have not read through this workbook, I would highly recommend it.  This thirteen-week study “is [as the authors put it] a resource for the members of local churches to acquire a better comprehension of Wesley’s theology in lay terms.”  Each sermon looks at a different aspect of Wesley’s understanding of “the way of salvation.”

Lessons begin with an outline, synopsis and a review of the topic and concludes with one of Wesley’s sermons.  The unfortunate downfall of this book is that it makes no attempt to bring the over 140 year old sermon text into the 21st century.  The book uses the 1872 version of the sermons as edited by Thomas Jackson.  The full text to these sermons is in the public domain and at the The General Board of Global Ministries Website.  While I sympathize with the authors’ decision to stay true to what Wesley actually said and published, modern readers may get lost in the archaic terms and metaphors.  Wesley’s sermons are incredibly applicable to our modern context; unfortunately, he is largely inaccessible to many modern readers.  And so I wonder…

What would it be like if Wesley were to speak to us today? in 21st century English?

This is the task at hand: to adapt the 12 sermons we will be looking at over the next few weeks in my Together discussion group into a sermon that could be delivered from the pulpit (or on the street corner) today.  I hope you’ll join me on the journey over the next several weeks as we explore John Wesley’s Sermons for Today.  I encourage you to give feedback on the sermons so that we can be in-formed together on our way toward salvation.

Note: I will use Thomas Jackson’s numbering for John Wesley’s sermons.  Who knows, someday I may get around to addressing all 141 published sermons of Wesley!