Several Sundays ago, a couple worshipping with us asked me about the name “Aldersgate”. I drew a blank and promised I would explain the name to them the following Sunday. I figured there might be others wondering about what “Aldersgate” is about. So here is the answer. The Methodist Church was founded by John Wesley, an Anglican Minister. Following a difficult and discouraging mission trip to America, he questioned his faith. In 1738, at the age of 34, John Wesley attended an evening worship service in London which moved him deeply. In his journal, Wesley described his "Aldersgate experience”:
"In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while the leader 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 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." -From The Journal of John Wesley, May 24, 1738
To me, “Aldersgate” describes the moment faith moves from being something inherited to something deeply personal. Our walk of discipleship with Christ is as necessary to our being as drawing a breath or taking in nourishment and water.
Interestingly, John Wesley made only one mention to this Aldersgate experience in his life. You see it was just one moment of a lifetime of moments when God was drawing John Wesley into a deeper and deeper relationship with his Creator. Some of us can point to a specific moment when the light bulb came on, and we knew with a certainty that we needed to be a disciple of Christ. Others have sensed God at work in their lives “like an ever flowing stream,” as the hymn says, leading us ever homeward. I will find no rest until I am with thee.
What brings us into that deep, joy-filled relationship with Christ? The church: the body of saints, perhaps parents, Sunday School teachers, and other mentors placed along our path by the Holy Spirit—Hey! Maybe even a preacher or two!!!
The question today for us is, are we truly an Aldersgate child?