“A Heart Strangely Warmed”: Aldersgate Day
How are you doing today? Summer vacation is…ALMOST…HERE!!! Are you are getting excited? Are you making any big plans–going swimming every day, playing outside every day, hanging out with your friends every day, avoiding doing chores, sleeping in, taking trips, and doing nothing? I am ready for Summer vacation, but I’m afraid that I will still be busy doing work. Aside from daydreaming about Summer vacation, did you remember to tell you mom “Happy Mother’s Day” last week? I hope you did, but if not, then go, right now, and give your mom a big hug and tell her that you love her!
Today, I simply want to inform you about a special day in our church. This day is often skipped over, not observed, neglected, or simply treated just like any other day; however, it’s important to recognize this day because it is the day that lives were changed. On May 24th, 1738–many, many, many years ago–a man by the name of John Wesley–the person who began a movement called Methodism at Oxford in 1729–accepted the love of Christ into his heart. As a matter of fact, his heart was “strangely warmed.” We call that day “Aldersgate Day” in the church.
Aldersgate Day is celebrated on May 24 (or the Sunday closest) to commemorate the day in 1738 when John Wesley experienced assurance of his salvation. Wesley reluctantly attended a group meeting that evening on Aldersgate Street in London. As he heard a reading from Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, he felt his “heart strangely warmed.” Wesley wrote in his journal that at about 8:45 p.m. “while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Charles Wesley, John’s brother and composer of many of the hymns we sing today, only a few days before had also had a conversion experience in a building that still stands on an adjacent block (John Bray’s house on Little Britain). We do not know whether the building where John Wesley’s experience took place still exists, nor exactly in which building on Aldersgate Street it may have been if it still stands. A monument at the London Museum on Aldersgate Street marks where some believe the building may have been.
When John’s heart was strangely warmed by the love and salvation of Christ, he began to develop instructions that all Christians should follow as they walk by faith, as they walk with Jesus Christ. John invites everyone–that’s you and me–to love God with our whole heart, mind, body, and soul, to rejoice in God in all that we do and say, to thank God each and every day for the blessings He has given us so freely, to pray to God always and anywhere for all people, and to love others as God loves you so that we can learn to accept others for who they are and for who God has fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. John Wesley has given us these instructions so that we can God make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
So, today or on May 24th, remember what John Wesley is calling you to do. Take some time to love God, rejoice in God, give thanks to God, pray to God, and love others. If you do these things, I bet your heart will be strangely warmed just like John Wesley’s heart was. Happy Aldersgate Day!
Your Friend, Holy Spirit!
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