Rev. Greg Moore
If John Wesley quotes were compiled into a greatest hits list, “The world is my parish” would have to be in the top 3.
It’s the kind of pithy quip that we religious folks just love. It fits on a T-shirt and it can be used as a defense for almost any activity that catches our fancy.
“Why are you going to Nicaragua?”
“Because, ‘the world is my parish!’”
“We missed you in worship this Sunday.”
“Hey, ‘the world is my parish!’”
“What church are you a part of?”
“Look, ‘the world is my parish!’”
There’s so much room in this quote (the whole world, actually) that it can be used as a means of dislocating ourselves. Claiming the whole world broadly can become a convenient way of neglecting the specifics of our actual locale. Saying that we love generally is no substitute for the work of loving the particularity of where we are.
Perhaps it would be helpful to remember the rest of Wesley’s quote. He writes, “I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.”
Wesley was not making a global claim as a means of neglecting the particularities of place and peoples.
That’s the work of the colonizer.
Wesley is a pastor.
What he is saying is that wherever he finds himself, he treats that place and the people therein as a particular expression of holiness and seeks to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ with them.
In the November edition of the New Room Society newsletter, you will hear some stories about Wesleyan leaders among us today, and the ways in which they are declaring the glad tidings of salvation in their neighborhoods.
We call that, “holistic mission.”
“Holistic” because it takes into account the whole of a place, and a people.
“Mission” because it seeks to be aligned with the work of Jesus Christ in every place and every people.
These stories are bearing witness to the good news that in the person of Jesus, God is still taking on flesh and “moving into the neighborhood.”
1 John 1:14, The Message Bible