CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©
My pastor, Geri Hamlen, gave me good news, the way pastors are supposed to do. “You’ve made it,” she said. “You’ve gone on to perfection in this life.”
That’s one of the questions Methodist ministers have to answer before we can be ordained: Do you expect to be made perfect in this life? The perfect answer is “Yes.”
My pickle ball buddies gave me a birthday party. In addition to pie and brownies and cupcakes and root beer, Vicky had taped to the wall bright colored letters that spelled out, “AGED TO PERFECTION.” My pastor is part of that group so she saw the writing on the wall.
I made it. I got to “perfection.”
John Wesley’s Methodist movement has always been about “doing” more than “believing.” Oh, yes, we “believe,” many different things, and argue about which of them are best, but “doing” is what we’re all about. And not just doing in any haphazard old way. We are not called Methodists by chance; we have a method.
Wesley believed that if we worked the method, we would become perfect, not in knowledge or faith or even in doing, but in love. Not in loving actions, since one can always make a mistake in action even while thinking that we are doing good, but in loving intent. Long before the notion was expressed by modern psychology, Wesley believed that attitude follows action. He lived it, too. If we acted in love often enough, we would become perfect in love.
Matthew, in chapter 5, vs 48, records Jesus as saying, “Be perfect, just like your heavenly father is perfect.”
Obviously, that does not mean we are supposed to be like God. That’s called “original sin,” the attempt to replace God with our own selfish selves, thinking that we can be God for others or for ourselves. And God is not perfect by some outside standard of perfection. Whatever God is, that is perfection. God is perfect by being true to the divine identity
So to be perfect as God is perfect means to be perfect in our own identity, human identity, doing forgiveness, making mistakes but forgiving mistakes, those of others and those of ourselves,  letting God be God instead of trying to be God ourselves, and being perfect in love, since God is love.
So, despite what the wall proclaimed at my party, maybe it’s not just aging that makes us perfect. Nonetheless, I’m taking those letters from the wall with me so I can show them to John Wesley at that great annual conference in the sky.
John Robert McFarland
1] The only thing Jesus talked about more than forgiveness was money.
The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP], where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]
I used to keep a careful index of all the things I told in this blog so that I would not repeat. That has become unwieldy. Now I just trust to… what’s it called… oh, yes, memory. Sorry about repeats.
I have also started an author blog, about writing and reading, in preparation for the publication, by Black Opal Books, of my novel, VETS, Author guru Kristen Lamb says author blogs are counter-productive, that a blog should be “high concept.” I don’t know what that means, but consider my “Just Words” blog as “high concept.” VETS is about four handicapped and homeless Iraqistan veterans who are accused of murdering a VA doctor, in 2015. http://johnrobertmcfarland-author.blogspot.com/
I tweet as yooper1721.