November 12, 2005

Charles Simeon

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to “Communion of Saints” from I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is November 12th, 2005: The Feast of Blessed Charles Simeon.

In 1779, while at Cambridge preparing for his first communion, Charles Simeon was a troubled man. His academic work and his preparation for ordination were going well, yet there seemed that something wasn’t quite right. He had been reading a popular devotional tract that concentrated on obedience to God and following the strict precepts of right conduct as the proper way to prepare to receive the Holy Communion. It wasn’t suiting him, though. His experience with the Eucharist was unsatisfying.

Before long, however, he encountered another approach to receiving communion. This one emphasized the role of faith, rather than law, in the sacrament. Here was a spirituality that spoke to Charles Simeon’s heart. His reception of the Eucharist that Easter fed him more than it ever had. From that moment on, he became a committed evangelical, rising to become the acknowledged leader of that movement in the Church of England.

As the head of the Church Missionary Society, and as a strong supporter of other evangelical and missionary organizations such as the British and Foreign Bible Society, he strongly influenced the course of English missionary history. He advised the East India Company on the chaplains they sent overseas, and was instrumental in recruiting Henry Martyn for his successful mission to Southwest Asia.

This story of a great evangelical Anglican makes it very clear why we’re advised to meditate on this famous passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans today, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:8b-17)

Today, many people look at the words evangelical and evangelism with great suspicion. But Charles Simeon’s life speaks of two important pillars of evangelicalism—a powerful and life-giving experience of faith moving in the heart, and the almost uncontrollable desire to share that joy with others through acts of witness. I hope that these two feelings are familiar to you as you think back on your life of faith. And if they are, don’t hide them. Joy is meant to be shared.

Let us pray: O loving God, we know that all things are ordered by your unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see you hand; that, following the example of your servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve you with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us on November 14th at for the commemoration of the consecration of Samuel Seabury. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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