Why Wesley?: Ave Rivera

I started attending Wesley my freshman year, and of course, it was the last place on my list of churches. First semester of Freshman year was tough, but there was something about Wesley that helped me gain peace. Perhaps it was the smell of church in Watseka Hall or the fact that Wesley stands by the Methodist motto – open hearts, open minds, open doors; but as the semester kicked off, I started to realize that Wesley was becoming home away from home. Perhaps you thought I was about to say “My word for Wesley is Home”, but that would’ve been cliché and rather easy. My word for Wesley is radical. Nowadays, the word radical has a lot of negative connotations, it has become synonymous with “extreme”, but if you really look at the etymology of the word, it stems from the Greek word for “root”, so living as an “ordinary radical”, to quote theologian Shane Claybourn, means staying true to your roots, true to the roots of Christianity, therefore true to the teachings and ways of Christ. From the moment I stepped foot at Wesley, it just felt right to be here. It felt good to be amongst a community of people that affirms you for who you are and validates your contributions, and if you don’t know how you can contribute, this is the place to explore your gifts. I guess I can apply the definition of radical that deals with how different or Bizarre an action might be, so in a world that is full of negativity and full of things that bring you down, it is definitely a radical notion to affirm someone and simply love because God is love and God loved us. It’s a simple yet scandalous idea, but this isn’t just in today’s context, the very establishment of the ETC coffeehouse was rooted in the then-radical belief that dialogue should be open and encouraged, no matter what the topic. Here we encourage ourselves to be radicals and to #LiveDifferently, which means we have to love differently, act differently, think differently, forgive differently, which for me is calling me to love radically, think radically, forgive radically, live radically. All in accordance to our roots as followers of Christ. In the eyes of his peers, It was radical for Jesus to approach the leper, so it must be radical for us to help the least needy, but that must not deter us from what we are called to do. The famous hymn “we are called” reinforces those ideas. We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, to serve one another, and to walk humbly with God. To wrap it all up, I challenge all of us to remember our roots, to think of how we can be an ordinary radicals, to embody Wesley in our daily lives, so that Wesley contributes to the radical transformation of the world.