I preached this sermon yesterday at my home church, Wesley Chapel. We have been focusing on the farewell discourse from the Gospel of John through the season of Lent, and yesterday’s text was John 16:16-33.
One of the things I’ve learned in pastoral ministry is most people, if you scratch beneath the surface, have passed through profound trials. You think people live very cookie-cutter lives, but it’s not true. Many people’s lives have been marked by deep tragedy and brokenness. But in our very private, individualistic Canadian context, these burdens are often carried in secrecy or near-secrecy. I know some of the suffering of the people in our church family, but I am sure there is much more that I don’t know about. It is important that we acknowledge the inevitability of suffering in this life, especially in a culture of convenience and ease, where suffering seems to have become so unthinkable that many people would rather cut their lives short than live with suffering. But the point is not to simply state that suffering is inevitable, but to proclaim how, through Christ, our suffering can be taken up and transformed into a path towards peace and joy.
Themes of grief, lament, and peace in the face of suffering were woven throughout the service. We had a powerful testimony from a mother who lost her 21-year-old son last year, and we introduced this song from Bifrost Arts.
I hope Christ’s words gave some peace and courage to those gathered yesterday: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The Wesleyan Liturgical Society will meet for the fourth time on March 14, 2019, at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. As in past years, the WLS will meet on the day before the meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society.
Go here to register today and you can still get the early bird rate for both events.
The schedule is posted below.
Annual Meeting of the Wesleyan Liturgical Society
March 14, 2019, Wesley Theological Seminary
||Welcome & Opening Worship
Keynote Address: Anna Adams Petrin, Wesley Theological Seminary
||Michael Tapper, “Trinitarian Beliefs and Contemporary Worship Lyrics: Exploring the (In)Consistency within Evangelicalism.”
SunAe Lee-Koo, “Eschatological Hope in the Eucharistic Prayer.”
||Steven Vredenburgh, “Sanctifying Culture: Liturgy as Cultural Imagining.”
Rebecca Davis, “Inaugurated Eschatology and Corporate Worship: God’s Kingdom Breaks In.”
This past Tuesday I was officially installed as the Donald N. and Kathleen G. Bastian Chair of Wesley Studies at Tyndale Seminary. I’ve been doing the work of the Wesley Chair since I arrived at Tyndale in January 2013. However, since I was a newly-minted Assistant Professor, I was hired with the understanding that I would be officially appointed to the Chair upon successful application for tenure and promotion. So this Tuesday’s ceremony was nearly six years in coming.
It was a good day to celebrate the partnership between Tyndale and the Wesleyan denominations that sponsor the Bastian Chair: the Be in Christ Church (formerly Brethren in Christ), the Church of the Nazarene, the Free Methodist Church, the Salvation Army, and the Wesleyan Church. The Bastian Chair was established in 1993, and Donald Bastian (then Bishop of the Free Methodist Church in Canada) was instrumental in drawing the partner denominations together.
The sermon audio is below, and it can be downloaded from the Tyndale website. It was a bit of an unusual sermon – in fact, it was something of a blend of sermon and keynote address. Had the installation been held a separate occasion I would have done an inaugural lecture; since it took place during our regular community chapel service, it needed to take the form of a sermon and speak to the whole Tyndale community.
The scripture readings were Isaiah 25:1-9 and 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.
As I said on Tuesday, I am truly grateful for Tyndale and for this unique role, which allows me to serve both the Canadian Wesleyan family and the broader church.
President Gary Nelson
Major Ron Millar reading scripture
Prayer of Dedication by Prof. Dennis Ngien
Benedition by Bishop Emeritus Donald N. Bastian
With Rev. Lloyd Eyre, Chair of the Tyndale Wesley Studies Committee
Prof. Dennis Ngien and President Nelson
Friends from Wesley Chapel
Rev. Ian Fitzpatrick (Nazarene), Rev. Steve Ottley (Nazarene), Rev. Dr. Peter Rigby (Wesleyan), Bishop Cliff Fletcher (Free Methodist)
I’m pleased to announce that Tyndale’s next Wesley Studies Symposium will take place on April 30, 2019, with Marguerite Van Die giving the keynote address. Van Die is Professor Emerita of History at Queen’s University, and a noted expert on Canadian church history. Her many publications include An Evangelical Mind: Nathaniel Burwash and the Methodist Tradition in Canada, 1839-1917. This is the definitive biography of Burwash, the most important Canadian Methodist theologian and an important churchman in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Dr. Van Die’s address is entitled “Building a moral community: Methodists and Public Life in Nineteenth Century Canada.” I have a number of excellent papers lined up but am open to receiving proposals from other potential presenters. Watch for registration and other details in the coming weeks.
I’ve recently been engaging the controversial question of baptism in Wesleyan theology and practice. The Methodist position has always been somewhat unusual, and it continues to be of interest despite centuries of discussion and debate. In the past several months, through student papers, conversations with other pastors, and situations in my own church, I’ve been pressed into renewed consideration of the question.
The occasion for the sermon below was two back-to-back baptism services at Wesley Chapel: four adult baptisms on June 3, and an infant baptism on June 10. While we’ve had both types of baptism regularly, I don’t believe we’ve ever had them so close together. I realized that, in the ten years I’ve been at Wesley Chapel, we’ve never clearly addressed the question of baptism.
So in the sermon below I’ve attempted to give a brief orientation to the position of our denomination, the Free Methodist church. Given the context of this sermon, my goal was not so much to defend the Free Methodist view (though I do try to answer some common objections) as to articulate it. I also tried not to assume much prior knowledge, given the diverse set of people and church backgrounds we have with us on a given Sunday morning. So the sermon has limitations, and necessarily paints with a broad brush, but I hope it is helpful as a general overview.
*A note to my Salvation Army readers: in the first half of the sermon I set out the major positions on baptism from across the ecumenical spectrum; however, due to time constraints and the heavy amount of content that was already included in the sermon, I decided not to try to explain the non-observant stance of the Salvation Army and the Society of Friends. No disrespect was intended…this was entirely a practical decision. I didn’t think I’d have time to address it adequately. When I teach this topic in the seminary classroom, I always include an explanation of the Salvationist viewpoint.
As usual, I had a very full and fruitful time at the annual meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society. It is a pleasure and privilege to be able to gather with fellow scholars in the Wesleyan family, and every year I come away inspired, encouraged and equipped for my own work.
This year also marked the third annual meeting of the Wesleyan Liturgical Society – a new affiliate society of WTS that I hope will grow and flourish in the years to come.
In response to a request from a member who could not be there, I made audio recordings of the keynote address and panel discussion that followed.
The WLS will meet again next March at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Watch the WTS website for further details in the weeks to come.
Borders and the Body Broken: Liminal Space at the Table, by Brannon Hancock (Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University)
Panel response: Heather Gerbsch Daugherty (Belmont University), Steven Bruns (Central Christian College of Kansas), Brent Peterson (Northwest Nazarene University).
The Wesleyan Liturgical Society will meet on March 8, in conjunction with the joint meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society and Society for Pentecostal Studies. This year’s meeting takes place at Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, TN.
I’ve really enjoyed the first two WLS meetings, and we’ve got a great program lined up for this year, with a noted focus on the Lord’s Supper. The schedule is posted below.
You can register through WTS, though note that meals must be purchased through SPS.
Wesleyan Liturgical Society
Third Annual Meeting, March 8, 2018
Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland, TN
- 1:15 Welcome, opening prayer
- 1:30 Plenary paper, Brannon Hancock, “Borders and the Body Broken: Liminal Space at the Table”
- 2:00 Plenary panel discussion on the open table
- 2:30 Break
- 3:00 parallel session 1
- Todd Stepp, “Uniting the Pair So Long Disjoined: Tearing Down the Wall Between the Form of Godliness and the Power Thereof”
- Chris Green, “The Altar and the Table: Reflections on a Pentecostal Theology of the Lord’s Supper”
- 3:40 Parallel session 2
- Larry Wood, “The New Baptismal Liturgy and a Wesleyan theology of Christian Initiation”
- Steve Bruns: “The Third Race and Closed Worship: How Destroying One Border Created Another”
- 4:20 Break
- 4:30 Business meeting
- 5:00 Evening Prayer