Publisher’s Page: Abundant health, abundant living
Dear Friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you.
Greetings to you in this New Year! The above salutation was inspired by the verse found in the third Epistle of John, first chapter, second verse.
These words from John may be of particular interest at this time of the year as we find ourselves surrounded by messages promoting wellness goals. Achieving and experiencing good health is a common theme every January as we look toward another year with expectation for doing and becoming all we can.
Jesus himself was a proponent of enjoying a life well lived, and pointed to himself as the giver of this abundance. John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came to give us life and that we may have it more abundantly. Another translation says "to live life to the fullest" (CEB).
The theme of this issue of Interpreter is "Abundant Health – Body, Mind and Spirit." Inside these pages, you'll read how the people of The United Methodist Church are working to ensure that abundant health is available to all of God's children. We offer articles covering the scope of the overarching abundant health and abundant living theme, including stories about spiritual growth through camps and retreats, exploring the body, mind and spirit connection, seeking spiritual direction, candor about mental illness and details of the new 2017-2020 Abundant Health initiative as one of the denomination's Four Areas of Focus.
Since 2008, when the Four Areas of Focus were designated, The United Methodist Church has concentrated on developing Christian leaders, creating exciting, vibrant ministry in new and existing congregations, and engaging in ministry with our neighbors, as well as improving health globally. Imagine No Malaria, which has been an extraordinary initiative of the people of The United Methodist Church to eliminate malaria deaths, is one example of the impact the church has made in the area of global health.
Our Abundant Health initiative for the next four years builds on what we already have achieved through Imagine No Malaria, with a new goal of reaching 1 million children with lifesaving interventions by 2020. As we grow in our faith together, we recognize through the Abundant Health campaign that we can share God's grace to transform our communities and improve health for all. We seek wholeness for all persons mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. That's part of Jesus' message of abundant life in the kingdom of God.
Jesus' message of abundant life has transformed lives through the generations. In 1747, John Wesley published a book that also espoused living life abundantly. Primitive Physick was written in response to Wesley's belief that wellness should be available for all people and not just the wealthy, as he witnessed in 18th-century England. In addition to offering practical medical advice to those who could not afford medical care, the founder of Methodism also explored the relationship between physical health and spiritual health.
The Rev. Beth Spencer Anderson, pastor at Courthouse Community United Methodist Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, writes about Wesley's wellness ideology in her blog post published at BustedHalo.com:
How we live is just as important as what we believe. Holiness is about wholeness and a holistic approach to life. At every moment, Wesley wanted believers to feel the presence of God in every part of their lives. He believed spiritual holiness calls us also to live into physical wholeness. Wesley wrote a well-publicized book entitled Primitive Physick where he gave advice and offered remedies for illnesses. A balanced diet, exercise and proper rest, with all things in their appropriate degree, were important to this holistic way of looking at health. In one letter Wesley shared, ‘Exercise, especially as the spring comes on, will be of greater service to your health than a hundred medicines.
We are still weeks away from spring, which is when Wesley's book advised we exercise, but perhaps there is a way to find time now to create spaces for connecting with your creator in search of wholeness. May we hold each other in prayer that, on this journey, we might live life to the fullest. Happy New Year!
Dan Krause is general secretary of United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A., and publisher of Interpreter.