Susannah Wesley often has been called “the mother of Methodism.” Though her sons John and Charles were the forces behind the Methodist movement in 18th Century England, Susannah taught them everything they knew. Literally.

She gave birth to nineteen children–ten of whom grew to adulthood—and homeschooled all of them, training them so well in Latin, Greek, religious studies and the classics that her boys were able to attend Oxford University at age sixteen.

Brilliant, devout, and practical, it was Susannah who put the method in Methodism. She ran her home like clockwork, putting her children to bed at exactly the same hour every evening, spending the fifth birthday of each child teaching them the entire alphabet and the next day beginning reading instruction with the first verse of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Susannah was more than a mother, though. During the long periods when her husband Samuel, an Anglican priest and scholar, was away from home, Susannah virtually ran the local parish in Epworth. Though she was not allowed to conduct services in the church—a role limited to men—she often held Bible studies and meetings in the parsonage and made sure church affairs were in good order.

Samuel grew so concerned about Susannah’s influence among church members that he wrote her at one point to stop being so involved—to which Susannah curtly replied, “When you shall return, my efforts shall cease!”

On an occasion when he was at home, Samuel observed his wife disciplining one of the children and remarked, “I marvel at your patience! You have told that child the same thing twenty times!” Susannah replied, “Had I spoken the matter only nineteen times, I should have lost all my labor.”

It took an organized person to give her children the attention they needed. “I take as much time as I can every night with each child apart, “Susannah once wrote. “On Monday I talk with Molly; on Tuesday with Hetty; Wednesday with Nancy; Thursday with Jacky; Friday with Patty; Saturday with Charles; and Emily and Suky together on Sunday.” When her famous “Jacky” later struggled with a difficult situation, he wrote home, “Oh, Mother, what I’d give for a Thursday evening!”

These stories of a mother’s patient love remind me of how we are treated by our Creator. God knows us each by name and, slow as we are to learn, God never gives up on us. As busy as she is, God has time for each of us. God has invested a great deal in us—to much love and labor to be lost.

We all need a Thursday night, if not with mother, then with God. Like a child whose development is enhanced by the attention of our parents, our spirits develop through time spent with our divine Parent. A time to be alone together in quiet conversation and reflection about the course of our lives. A chance both to speak what is on our heart and to listen for wisdom and direction. When is your Thursday night?

So, here’s to parents who give their kids “Thursday night” time, devoted solely to them. Here’s to children who treasure it. And to the God who always has time for us.

Pastor Roy

P.S. Click the picture or link below to read the full May 2024 edition of The Beacon