We’re a United Methodist Church.
There are two strange words you need to learn to understand who we are and what we’re about as a United Methodist faith community:
Metanoia is a Greek word your bibles usually translate as ‘repent.’ Unfortunately, ‘repent’ is a word that conjures all kinds of negative churchy associations.
Metanoia literally means ‘turn around.’
It’s the same word from which we get the word: REVOLUTION
So in the very beginning of the Gospel story when Jesus makes his first appearance on stage and announces “Metanoia, the Kingdom of God is coming near,” Jesus is enlisting troops.
He’s drafting people to turn away from themselves and sign up for a revolution.
A REVOLUTION OF JESUS’ KINGDOM HERE ON EARTH.
And when a lawyer asks Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus tells him: “You must turn your heart, mind, soul and strength to God and to your neighbor.”
In other words, your WHOLE LIFE.
A REVOLUTION IN YOUR LIFE LEADS TO ETERNAL LIFE.
Then there’s the other word: Aldersgate.
It’s actually a place. A street in London, England.
Nearly 300 years ago, an Anglican priest named John Wesley attended a bible study at a church on Aldersgate Street.
Even though John Wesley had grown up in the church, even though his father was a priest and his brother was a priest and he was a priest, even though he’d traveled all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to serve as a missionary in America- his faith had always been in his head but not in his heart.
Not until he went to that bible study on Aldersgate Street.
That day, he heard the Gospel as though for the first time, and he wrote in his journal how that day he felt his heart strangely turned towards God.
John Wesley went on to start the Methodist Movement, a movement aimed at turning hearts to God through compelling preaching, hands-on service to the poor and small group bible study.