Pentecost +16 - Year C
John Wesley’s last letter was to Britain’s paramount abolitionist, William Wilberforce, who had been converted under his ministry. In it he referred to slavery as “that execrable villainy”. In his Notes Wesley finds here a message that “infinitely transcends all the wisdom of the world. And it gives us a specimen how Christians ought to treat of secular affairs from higher principles.”
What do these higher principles have to do with the slavery of sweatshops and trafficking? What about the enslavement of political processes under a dictator? Where does economic slavery come into living-wage issues and capitalism in general that willingly enslaves the poor for the benefit of excess profit?
Paul tries to use a carrot and stick approach in the relationship between Philemon and Onesimus. We try the same in all the above even though it is seldom systemically helpful. You might want to look at LovePrevailsUMC.com and its emphasis upon Disclose(t), Divest, and Disrupt since building relationships, playing elect the delegate, and legislative processes have not taken overtly discriminatory language against LGBTQI people out of The Book of Discipline. [Yes, join in learning more about and doing those three actions as well as sending money to this organization. Disclaimer: I am one of its founders.]
Extra credit: Read John Wesley’s Thoughts Upon Slavery. Note how little scripture he uses, compared to his usual sermons and his reliance upon experience and grace.