Today, being May 24, Methodists pause for a moment to remember John’s Wesley’s experience at Aldersgate Street on this evening 280 years ago. It was here that John’s Wesley’s “heart was strangely warmed.” Many describe this as his conversation experience. Rather, I understand it as his convergence experience! It was here that his journey of a disciplined and ordered life came face to face with the German Piety that he so long desired to experience. The convergence is when the head and the heart had a meeting. While the foundational pieces of Methodism existed prior to May 24, 1738, they did not converge until that very moment.
The clock pictured here, is not from Aldersgate (The Museum of London now sits on this location.) It is not from Wesley’s Chapel on City Road in London. It hangs on the front of the gallery at Wesley’s New Room in Bristol. The clock was certainly not present when Wesley preached here back in the 1740’s. Yet it hangs there today telling the time for any would be preacher that might take to the historic pulpit. The clock serves as a reminder that all things happen in their time. Even the New Room itself is not used any longer for an organized church. The clock beckons me to consider when it is “time” for things. Time for God. Time for us.
Having been in ministry in United Methodist Churches for 31 years, I continue to feel like it is time. Time for the convergence of head and heart once more. Lest we become the “dead sect” Wesley warned us of becoming, this convergence is long overdue. As I reflect on Wesley’s heart-warming experience, the clock in Bristol beckons us to be Methodist people once more. Enthusiastic. Sensational. Disciplined. Ordered. Holy. It is not a matter of returning to roots. It is more a matter of eschewing our systems and categories by which we pigeon-hole each other in the Christian tradition and even in our own United Methodist Tribe. Progressive. Traditionalist. The list goes on and on.
Perhaps God simply is inviting us to a more robust and vital faith. One where our mind and our hearts converge once more. One where we focus less on position and posture, both in the church and outside of it, and focus more simply on each of our lives before God. Let us not forget the lesson of this day from the enigmatic Mr. Wesley. God is saying that our time for a convergence is long overdue. A time for the heart and the mind, together, to serve the Lord and the world.