Dr. Jamie Jenkins: Wesley's Means of Grace

The sparkling oversized ring was one of the prized possessions of the "princess." It was much too big for her tiny finger. It dominated her hand but she wore it everywhere. Twenty four hours a day. With every outfit. She was never without it. She was very proud of the ring and enjoyed showing it to everyone.

After her two week visit we stood in line with her at the airport. As we waited to check in for her return flight, she took the ring off her finger and handed it to my wife. With her words, "You can have it," a lump formed in my throat and tears came to my eyes. I looked at Lena and I knew she was about to lose it, too.

The ring was one of the treasures of the "princess" and she gave it away.

After gaining control of her emotions Lena did all one can do in response to such an unselfish and generous act. She said, "Thank you. I will take good care of it."

The ring had very little monetary worth but four year old Felicia valued it highly. And she gave it to her Nana as she returned to her "Tokyo house" at the end of the holiday visit. It represented a love that is priceless.

Dr. Lovett Weems, director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, told a group of United Methodist leaders last week that their task was to be "stewards of the Wesleyan witness of holiness of heart and life." He intimated that our Methodist heritage was a precious treasure that had been entrusted to us. The early Methodist circuit riders were charged to spread scriptural holiness throughout the land. It is our responsibility and privilege to do the same.

We who have experienced the transforming grace of Christ are called to faithful living and to fruitful practices that help others to see and come to know Jesus.

John Wesley emphasized repeatable activities that draw us near to God and send us to serve others. He taught the Means of Grace as ways that Christians open their hearts and lives to God's work in them. These practices can be divided into two broad categories, with individual and communal components: Works of Piety and Works of Mercy.

Works of Piety such as prayer, fasting, studying the Bible, regular observance of Holy Communion, and Christian conferencing (community) are spiritual disciplines that keep us centered on Jesus Christ, the object of our faith.

Works of Mercy, such as visiting the sick and imprisoned, feeding and clothing those in need, giving generously, and seeking justice for oppressed people are ways that we let our light shine.

"Our Message is not about ourselves; we're proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus ... It started when God said, ‘Light up the darkness!' and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful ... We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives (2 Corinthians 4:5-7, The Message)."

We have this treasure in earthen vessels. What an awesome privilege and responsibility. Lord, help us to be faithful and fruitful!

Jamie Jenkins

[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," Jan. 24, 2011. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]