Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wondering about Wesleys

I discovered something interesting a few days ago. My wife, Trish, is a direct descendant of Samuel Wesley, brother of John and Charles. My father bought me a software program for genealogy research and I have been playing with it, trying to add a few links here and there. Since my parents and I had already done fairly extensive research on our family tree years ago, it was easy to find the data banks that have been made available in the last few years and their relevant information.

So, my children and grandchildren are living links to one of the most significant movements in all of Christian history: Methodism.

That doesn’t just mean the United Methodist Church of course, but Nazarenes, Church of God in Christ, AME, most of the Pentecostal movement – a huge portion of Protestant Christianity.

Trish’s great grandfather and his father established the little Methodist Church in Willow Springs, KY. Together they pastored that church for over 50 years. The older pastor, Ruben Richardson, moved to Kentucky from Tazwell, Tennessee in 1800. His grandfather, William Wesley, had moved from Devon, England to establish a church in Rockbridge, Virginia.

Williams grandfather was Samuel Wesley. There’s a woman behind all of this: Susanna Wesley, mother of John, Charles, Samuel and nine more.

Scholarly, sassy, and struggling with doubt, she was the daughter, wife, and mother of Anglican and dissenting clergymen. Nevertheless pushing toward faith, Susanna molded the life and faith of generations of believers.

My wife, daughters and granddaughters are her children. The question is, what will we do with what we have received?

In Never Silent, Bishop Thad Barnum writes about the alarming erosion of Christian faith in the great American denominations. He urges the members of the younger denominations and independent churches to shake off the apathy before the spreading flame of heresy overtakes us and destroys our inheritance.

I was delighted this week to know that my children are genetically linked to great heroes of our faith. In the end though, genes will not count for much.

What counts, on this holy week during which our Lord gave His life, is whether we will walk the same path as the saints. If we decide to do so, when we will begin the journey?

“Be favorable and gracious to Zion, O Lord; and rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with the appointed sacrifice.”

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