SERMON TITLE: “Starting the New Year Well: Societally”
SERMON TEXT: Isaiah 58:1-12
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: February 5, 2017, at First UMC
Yesterday, at least eight of us from this church participated in the pro-immigrant and pro-refugee rally that marched from the Union Depot to the Ogden Municipal Building. We carried signs with Bible verses like Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:35, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” and Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.”
Our participation in that social justice rally goes along with our United Methodist heritage. As our Book of Discipline indicates, our earliest Methodist leaders were engaged in advocacy for the poor and disadvantaged. For John Wesley, our father in faith, there was “no religion but social religion, no holiness but social holiness.”* The heart-warming grace of Christ and the spiritual disciplines and piety that John Wesley preached and exemplified were not just for the personal salvation of individual sinners. Those Methodist emphases of faith and holiness were also for mission and service and the transformation of the world.
Ever since January first, I’ve been preaching about starting the New Year well. We’ve talked about how to be well mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and creatively. All five of those ways were pretty individual. Like New Year’s resolutions, we could choose—with God’s help—to make healthier decisions and put our own mind, body, and spirit to work practicing some better personal habits. What I want to talk about with you today is different. While we still have to choose individually whether or not we’re going to engage in this issue, this kind of wellness is not just about us. This week, we’re talking about starting the New Year well societally.