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Happy 300th, Chuck!

April 17, 2007

Check out this story from the United Methodist News Service.

I’m a big fan of Charles Wesley. As a music-obsessed, guitar-playing, uke-strumming, songwriting, United Methodist, I have long considered it the height of cool that our heritage is based upon the work of a great theologian (John) and a great songwriter (Charles). I say that not to diminish John as a songwriter or Charles as a theologian. I say it to lift up Methodism’s historic emphasis on artistic expression of faith.

It has long been asserted that the Wesleys did a better job of describing their Eucharistic theology in song than in writing. Some days I too wish I had a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemer’s praise (most days I wish I felt that way more often) – and that passionate expression of faith’s assurance is far more powerful than simple descriptive words. I’ve even heard some assert that United Methodists in the pews actually learn more theology from our hymnals than from our pastors. (That’s not the downfall of pastors, it’s the power of song).

I don’t know about you, but I totally look forward every Easter to singing those loud, lusty Alleluias in Christ The Lord Is Risen Today. (sidenote: when we say Christ is risen today, how existential is that?) Thank you, Charles. How much theology is there in this single stanza?:

 Let us plead for faith alone,
faith which by our works is shown;
God it is who justifies,
only faith the grace applies.

Thank you, Charles. Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast! Thank you, Charles.

Who are today’s Charles Wesleys? Can we aspire to express our faith as beautifully, lustily, passionately as Charles did? I pray we can.

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