Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reflection on Asbury

Looking back on last week (and how important it is to make time to reflect) gives me much joy. I have visited many seminaries over the years but this rates as one of the most welcoming communities ever!  An administrator commented how the faculty was responsible for engendering the warm supportive ethos which Carol and I experienced at every turn. I know this should be true in any seminary, but the friendship offered on several different occasions when we were hosted by faculty members was of a very high order.  As you can tell, we enjoyed every minute.

The full chapel services (attendance is voluntary) demonstrated a spiritual liveliness with much responsiveness in the main preaching events.  For me, the highpoint was the final morning when I spoke about the restoring love of Jesus Christ who asks us about our love for him (not about our thinking, our achievements, our theology).  This 'heart question' held us still and in the final hymn the chapel leader interrupted after two verses with an invitation for hearers to come to the front and kneel at the altar rail. As people came forward I knew that God was at work for real.  That's a deeply humbling experience for any preacher.

Afterwards the chapel leader told me that he felt constrained by the Spirit to make the appeal. 'Actually, you should have felt the liberty to conclude with an appeal yourself,' he challenged.  It left me wondering how often I have missed opportunities like this because I was a visitor in a pulpit and I felt constrained in cowardly ways.  I am so thankful he responded promptly this time.

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