I am honoured to give this Methodist Sacramental Fellowship Lecture. I am grateful to the MSF for the support you have given me over the years. I value MSF for the respect you give to the testimony of the Holy Scriptures and the centrality of the Holy Eucharist.
I have been invited to give this Lecture as a result of a conversation I have conducted with Norman Wallwork over a number of years on the Wesleyan, particularly Charles’, use of polysyllabic words such as “unfathomable”, “incomprehensibly”, and, my favourites, “undistinguishing” and “inextinguishable”. Norman discerned the makings of a Lecture. I discern a Weslyan Polysyllabic Holy Trinity: God who has an Undistinguishing Regard for all; Christ who is Incomprehensibly Made Man; and the Holy Spirit, the Inextinguishable Blaze.
The two words “for all” are central in Methodist thought, and were deliberately chosen in the title of my Inaugural Presidential Address: A Table For All.
In the words of Charles Wesley, God’s “Undistinguishing regard was cast on [all] Adam’s fallen race”, and, as he goes on to write, “for all thou hast in Christ prepared sufficient, sovereign, saving grace”[Hymns and Psalms 520].
The words Immense, Unfathomed and Unconfined, in relation to God and God’s Grace, say to me that God, and God’s Grace, knows no bounds.
What I offer in this paper are some reflections on my understanding of God, the Grace and Graciousness of God, and the Good News of God disclosed in Jesus Christ.Most of us here have met around a vision that we want to mark 2007 as an important mile-stone in the struggles against slavery, recognising that – while there were around 10million people in slavery worldwide in 1807, to our shame there will be over 20 million people in slavery worldwide in 2007.
With the support of all the organisations we represent, and others, the ‘Set All Free – Act to end Slavery’ project has been established, and a project Director and Officer are in place. We have an executive committee, and a wider co-ordinating group to guide and support the project.
Considerable work has already been undertaken, and we have an agenda.
We are here therefore to share together in this service of commitment, to launch the Set All Free project, and to Commission our Director and Officer, in the context of worship and prayer. Set All Free is a project of the church. It is a collaboration between churches, church related groups, societies and agencies, and others who are happy to work with a Christian ethos to ‘act to end slavery.’ We are a partnership of black and white Christians – utterly dedicated to opposing the disgrace of slavery in all its forms. We meet on this ground to affirm the Christian tradition of questioning and opposing injustice.
Our motivation is Jesus Christ and his vision of the kingdom of God in which all belong equally.
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