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The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon

The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at The Divinity School, Duke University. He retired after serving eight years as Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church.

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Bishop Will Willimon: When "Mine" Becomes "Thine"

November 25, 2011

S.T. Kimbrough, a great treasure of our Conference, is the foremost living scholar on the hymns of Charles Wesley. S. T. called my attention to Wesley's hymn, "Happy the Multitude," in which Wesley says that we Christians should banish "mine" from our vocabulary. On this week of Thanksgiving, pray with me this prayer, Wesley's poetic response to Acts 4:32, "The multitude of them that believed, were of one heart, and one soul; neither said any of them, that aught of the things which he possessed, was his own, but they had all things in common. Neither was there any among them that lacked."

It's good to be reminded that our faith was born in the miracle of religious conversion that led to economic transformation as those who had previously been taught that their possessions were "mine" became born again to see that all we have is God's ("thine").

One of the most miraculous transformations that God works in the heart of the Christian is, in a culture of consumption and material aggrandizement, is the transformation from seeing the world as essentially "mine" to "thine." 

Happy the multitude

(But far above our sphere)

Redeemed by Jesus' blood

From all we covet here!

To him, and to each other joined,

They all were of one heart and mind.

Their goods were free to all,

Appropriated to none,

While none presumed to call

What he possessed his own;

The difference base of thine and mine

Was lost in charity Divine. 

No overplus, no need,

No rich or poor were there,

Content with daily bread

Where all enjoyed their share;

With every common blessing blessed

They nothing had, yet all possessed.  

S.T. Kimbrough, The Unpublished Poetry of Charles Wesley (Nashville: Kingswood, 1992), 2:295-96. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

--William Willimon

[Taken with permission from the Bishop's Blog, North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. Originally posted Nov. 21, 2011.]




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