Wednesday, March 01, 2006

March 2/3: John and Charles Wesley, Renewers of the Church, along with Chad, Bishop of Lichfield (672)

Depending on what church calendar you use, you may be remembering John (1791) and Charles (1788) Wesley on March 2 or March 3. My Lutheran calendar (and my Prayer Book) recommends the second of March, while Methodist and Episcopal calendars suggest the third. To discover how powerfully God used these two brothers to revitalize the church, visit the following:

John and Charles Wesley, Renewers of the Church
The Wesleys and Their Times
Charles Wesley: Great Hymnwriter

If you wish to give thanks to God--especially if you're a Methodist!--for the wonderful ministry of these renewers of the church, you might use this prayer:

Lord God, who inspired your servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and endowed them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in your Church, we entreat you, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known Christ may turn to him and be saved; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Today we also remember Chad, Bishop of Lichfield. This remarkable servant of the Lord is perhaps best known for not being Archbishop of York. He was elected and duly installed, but various persons raised objections, and rather than cause division in the Church he withdrew in favor of the other candidate, Wilfrid (remembered on 12 Oct). The objection was that some of the bishops who had consecrated him--although not Chad himself--were holdouts who, even after the Synod of Whitby had supposedly settled the question in 663, insisted on preserving Celtic customs on the date of celebrating Easter and similar questions, instead of conforming to the customs of the remainder of Western Christendom. He was soon after made Bishop of Lichfield in Mercia. There he travelled about as he had when Archbishop of York, always on foot (until the Archbishop of Canterbury gave him a hors and ordered him to ride it, at least on long journeys), preaching and teaching wherever he went. He served there for only two and a half years before his death, but he made a deep impression. In the following decades, many chapels, and many wells, were constructed in Mercia and named for him. (It was an old custom to dig a well where one was needed, and to mark it with one's own name or another's, that thirsty travellers and others might drink and remember the name with gratitude.)

We give thanks to God for Chad, Bishop of Lichfield, with this prayer:

Almighty God, whose servant Chad, for the peace of the Church, relinquished cheerfully the honors that had been thrust upon him, only to be rewarded with equal responsibility: Keep us, we pray, from thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and ready at all times to step aside for others, (in honor preferring one another,) that the cause of Christ may be advanced; in the name of him who washed his disciples' feet, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


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