The Methodist tradition has a few phrases that are fairly well-known. Perhaps the most familiar is some advice given to Methodists about how we should live our lives:
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
Perhaps you have seen this quote embroidered on a pillow or framed on a plaque hanging on someone’s wall. It is quite lovely, almost poetic. But despite common opinion to the contrary, there isn’t any evidence that John Wesley ever said or wrote the quote as it appears above.
Now, that’s not to say that the sentiment is not thoroughly Wesleyan. Far from it. Mr. Wesley has many quotes that are quite similar, including a sermon in which he said:
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Neither is love content with barely working no evil to our neighbour. It continually incites us to do good: as we have time, and opportunity, to do good in every possible kind, and in every possible degree to all men. (Sermon 36: “The Law Established by Faith”)
There is little doubt that “doing good” was a very important emphasis of early Methodism. And it continues to be an important emphasis today.
United Methodist congregations provide opportunities for members to “do good” in our communities. This work is commonly referred to as mission and justice work. At Manchester UMC we name our mission as, “Making a difference for Christ.” That mission calls us out into the community, out into the world to do good for our neighbors, to help where help is needed, to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression” in the world around us.
In other words, to live our faith publicly, together in community with the people around us. To work to make the world look like God wants it to look.
This weekend we will continue our worship series “We Are Manchester” by focusing on our mission and justice opportunities. This congregation is making a huge difference in the world, and this week we will celebrate the ways that is happening. I’ll see y’all in church!
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