I was in class over the weekend - I should have been in class the last two weekends, but frankly, though the class was on my schedule, I paid no attention to it and missed the first class. The class is Methodist Heritage and history and is a required class for me to keep my standing as a Certified Lay Speaker.
(A Certified Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church is someone who can serve beyond their local church. They are trained to lead in teaching, discussions and the like and can run a worship service - including delivering the sermon, in the absence of the pastor.)
I missed the first class with the homework assignment - but lucky me - the teacher of the class is my pastor. So, I was able to pick up my homework assignment and I went to the second class armed and ready.
As awed as I am by the talented artisans who are in the area: those folks who know how to use yarn, string, beads and metal and turn them into beautiful works of art, I am even more awed by people who live their faith. That is a thing of beauty. Folks who speak of God and their faith and you know they aren't faking it. I spent a day surrounded by a lot of folks like that and in my class of 30 people, it was so clear that those folks visited with God on a daily basis.
It's the kind of thing that will inspire you and humble you at the same time.
What did I learn about the History and Heritage of the UMC? Much more than I can put into one post. My pastor has been prepping me in my position as a Certified Lay Speaker by telling me to being thinking more theologically, which is to say, start thinking in sermon. A Certified Lay Speaker - or a Lay Speaker - for that matter - should always have a sermon in their pocket. This class has given me a slew of possible sermons and my mind has been blazing with those and with the lessons I'm taking away from the class.
The base lesson? Being saved by grace both grounds you and frees you. That believing in something centers you more than believing in nothing. That grace is both a gift and a choice and leaving it unwrapped is safer but there is safety in the gift itself and that cannot be accessed when the package of grace is closed.
I wish you could have been there, in the class and in the service after all the classes, when a child of about 12 announced he knew he was supposed to be a pastor because he loved preaching. Or the when class on prayer went into the congregation and prayed over folks.
It was incredibly touching and it can do so much.
It's making me think...and that's something.