Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Women In Ministry: A Wesleyan & Pentecostal Perspective

It is true, I'm not Pentecostal.  I'm from that part of the Wesleyan tradition that has had a long history of . . . competitiveness with Pentecostals.  -  Oh, who am I kidding!  Anyone who knows the history of the Holiness Movement and the Pentecostal Movement knows that they did not get along, to say the least.  Nevertheless, the two traditions share many things in common, owing to their shared history.  And, after many years of . . . difficulties, the academic wings, at least, of the two traditions have shared a number of regular interactions.  This is most notably seen in the joint meetings of the Wesleyan Theological Society and the Society for Pentecostal Studies.
One issue about which the two groups seem to be on the same page is the issue of the place of women in ordained ministry.

I came across an article on this topic from a post on Facebook by theWesleyan Holiness Women Clergy.  (Their Facebook page can be found, here.)  The article entitled, "Was Paul For or Against Women in Ministry?" was posted in Enrichment Journal.  It was written by Craig S. Keener, a professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Given the fact that Wesleyan Anglicanism (i.e., those Wesleyans who embrace Wesley's Anglican liturgical and sacramental side, along with those Anglicans who embrace Wesley's general theological leanings) often find connections with those in the midst of the transition of Anglicanism in America (viz., folks in the ACNA, as well as some of the other "continuing" Anglican groups), and, given the fact that the role of women in (ordained) ministry is a major issue for many within the ACNA, I thought I would post a link to this article.  It is also worth posting for those within the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition who, with their "conservative" evangelical emphasis, have sometimes been too influenced by "conservative" evangelicals from outside of our tradition.

Perhaps this article will be helpful to some who have, heretofore rejected women's orders.  On the other hand, perhaps it will prove to fail to address other issues of which Pentecostals and Wesleyans are, as yet, unaware.  In any case, I hope that the article is insightful.  Though I have only skimmed through the article, I am confident that it shows that, at least for the Wesleyan-Holiness & Pentecostal traditions, the commitment to women's orders took place long before the "liberal" women's rights movement, and Wesleyans and Pentecostals looked to (not away from) the Scripture in order to support women in the role of clergy.

The article can be found, here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pray For Peace On the First Sunday Of Advent

First Sunday In Advent
November 27, 2011

Click here for FREE Pray for Peace Resources!

On the first Sunday in Advent, 27 November 2011 the World Methodist Family on every continent will observe a sacred time of fervent prayer for peace and for all humankind. From the dawn of this day in the Kingdom of Tonga til the end of the day as the sun sets in Samoa in the South Pacific, the Methodist/Wesleyan family around the world will be praying for peace in many languages. Click here for Pray for Peace Resource Booklet and many other Pray for Peace Resources to help you make your First Sunday in Advent celebration a Prayer for Peace!  (The above was taken from the WME website.)

In the United States, the World Methodist Council denominations are the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Free Methodist Church, The United Methodist Church, and The Wesleyan Church.  -  I would encourage all pastors in these denominations to use the materials provided on the World Methodist Evangelism website.  This need not dominate the service of worship or otherwise be "an imposition."  But rather, simply including the bulletin insert and remembering to pray for peace during the prayers of the people (or pastoral prayer) can be an important act in union with our sisters and brothers in the larger Methodist family around the world.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rejoice, the Lord Is King!

In honor of Christ the King Sunday, I thought I would print a copy of Charles Wesley's great hymn, Rejoice, the Lord Is King, which we will be singing as our opening, processional hymn.  -  The hymn will be printed as it appears in the Sing to the Lord (Nazarene) hymnal and most other hymnals.  While we (at Centenary UMC) will be singing it as it appears in The United Methodist Hymnal, it seems that they have made strange editorial changes in verses 1 and 4; changes that seem not to make sense.  The predecessor hymnal, The Methodist Hymnal, retains the hymn as appears elsewhere.

It is interesting (and puzzling) to note that this hymn does not seem to appear in volume 7 of The Works of John Wesley: A Collection of Hymns for the Use of The People Called Methodists.  If it had appeared in that volume, light may have been shed as to why the UMC hymnal changed the text.

Nevertheless, here is the hymn!

Rejoice, the Lord Is King

1. Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing, And triumph evermore.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!

2. Jesus, the Savior, reigns, The God of truth and love.
When he had purged our stains, He took His seat above.Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!

3. His kingdom cannot fail; He rules o'er earth and heav'n.
The keys of death and hell Are to our Jesus giv'n.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!

4. Rejoice in glorious hope! Our Lord, the Judge, shall come
And take His servants up To their eternal home.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!

And so, I say to you, on this Christ the King Sunday, "Rejoice!" as, together with the people of God around the world, you worship Christ the King in the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God the Father!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christ the King Sunday

This Sunday we will be celebrating Christ the King Sunday (or "The Reign of Christ the King")! - It is the last Sunday after Pentecost and the last Sunday of the Christian year. It is also the Sunday just prior to our entering into the holy season of Advent.

The observance of Christ the King Sunday is really a relatively new celebration. It was originally instituted by Pius XI, Bishop of Rome, for celebration on the last Sunday of October. However, after Vatican II, it was moved to its current location on the Christian calendar.

The lectionary readings for this Sunday during our current year (year A), are quite interesting. The Epistle lesson, Ephesians 1:15-23, presents an image that one might naturally think of for this celebration. There, Christ is seen as seated at the right hand of the Father "in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come . . ." (NRSV).

The Gospel lesson, too, gives us an image of Christ the King. In Matthew 25:31-46, we see Christ in His glory with all of the angels. He is seated on His throne judging between the sheep and the goats.

But the Old Testament lesson, Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24, gives us another image. Oh, there is still a reference to the Davidic throne, but the over-riding image is that of the Good Shepherd gathering, tending, caring for, and healing His sheep. - Here we see Christ as the Shepherd/King.                       

And so, when we read the Gospel in light of the Old Testament passage, we begin to discover that we sheep, are really called to be just like our Shepherd/King. We are called into a life wherein we are transformed by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit so that, like our King, we naturally reach out to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, visit those in prison.

This Sunday (and everyday!) may we celebrate and worship Christ our King, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to His service, and by walking before Him in holiness and righteousness all our days (cf., "A General Thanksgiving," BCP). - May all glory be to God the Father, Christ our King, and the Holy Spirit! Amen!