A God of total love and forgiveness is a difficult (if not impossible) concept for us to understand. Therefore, the great mystery we call God was fully revealed to us in the form of a man, Jesus of Nazareth. Both the words and actions of Jesus, as recorded in the Scriptures, help us to better understand the loving nature of God. Even His ultimate act of obedience – giving up his life – is a means of illustrating the extent of God’s desire to reconcile all persons to God’s unending love. Finally, God raised Christ from the dead and the ultimate power of God was illustrated for all time.
The Article of Religion on God can be summarized as, “There is one true God, who has all power, wisdom, and goodness. God made and preserves all things. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, the Trinity.” Wesley affirmed a God of infinite wisdom, power, and love whose boundless love and tender mercy are for all persons.
The holy spirit
God continues to be revealed to us today in many different ways, most of which are identified through experience rather than knowledge. Both the experienced presence of God in our lives and the assumed activity of God in history are identified as the Holy Spirit. God is a mystery, and when this mystery touches our lives in some way, we identify it as the activity of the Holy Spirit. This experiential, mystical, revelation of God has always been a characteristic affirmation of Methodists.
We receive Communion on the first Sunday of every month. Our communion liturgy begins with words spoken on Jesus’ behalf inviting “all who love Him, who earnestly repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another.” There are no conditions for church membership or completion of a class required. The baptized present are all invited, even if they belong to a different church. Those not baptized are not barred from receiving, but “should be counseled and nurtured toward baptism as soon as possible.” In addition, there is no minimum age. Even baptized infants are invited. The Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of worship resources with Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church, explains, “to whatever degree they’re able to participate in the Great Thanksgiving—even if that’s simply being held in their mother’s arms while they sleep—they are there. They are part of what we are all doing together, so they are welcome to receive.”
God loves every person and continually seeks to forgive our failure to be obedient. This constant love and forgiveness is given freely. There is nothing we can do either to deserve or to earn it. This activity of God – God’s constant loving and forgiving of every person – is God’s grace.
We celebrate the two sacraments ordained by Jesus Christ, Baptism and Holy Communion, and we attach a significant degree of liturgical and mystical importance to them. However, we also believe that a variety of other activities such as confirmation, ordination, marriage, teaching, preaching, and social service (among others) are of a sacred nature and worthy of a nearly sacramental emphasis.
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