Thursday, January 26, 2012
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel
with the strength that comes from God. 2Tim:8
Today is feast day, in the Roman Catholic Church, of Sts. Timothy and Titus. I know of no churches in our community named in honor of this early Bishop, protege of St. Paul. Therefore I read with greater interest since I am not familiar with Timothy or knowledgeable of the Epistles to him. The above quote from 2 Timothy is Paul's directive to Timothy, a future bishop, to evangelize freely and spread the good news of salvation of Jesus Christ.
We can all take heed from these words. In our daily lives, we are immersed in the secular world. It is a great world, created by God, but distorted by errors and by, frankly, sin. Thankfully, we do not have to have great sorrow in the word sin. We are all guilty at some time of committing offenses against God and doing or omitting things which result in harm to ourselves or others. We are all guilty of failing, despite our faith and other Christian acts, to worship God with the strength and vigor that such a task demands.
The joy in my life is greatly attributable to the atonement for sin brought by Jesus Christ. When I learned of this gift, freely given, it inspired me to attain a higher level of Christian fellowship and follow the Word of God.
I hope that in reflecting on the words of Paul to Timothy in today's designated lectionary reading, that I will take heed and to not only witness to the love of Christ, but speak of it proudly and openly and help others come to Christ so that they can experience the freedom that our redemption has given us, to love, live, and long for the time we will be with Christ in the Kingdom of God.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
In this post I want to challenge you to consider the call to evangelism. There are a number of steps to start off with. First think about what your talents and gifts are. Do you write well? Are you good with people, with children, elderly, or other specific groups? You will call on your talents in this endeavor because evangelism is all about relationships. I discovered that I have a talent for interacting with the disenfranchised and the downtrodden. I hope that when I have the opportunity to witness to the love of Christ and His salvation, that I will exemplify the qualities that are present in the Gospel.
The second aspect of evangelism is having a cohesive message. Some groups you might encounter can be oppositional. There are people who feel they have been hurt by the Church and therefore have a bias. They may be critical of your efforts and contradict what you say to further their goals. So if your message is coherent and steadfast this will be much more effective. You cannot reach everyone and people need, more than anything, sufficient time to absorb new ideas, repeated exposure to the message and a gentle and respectful approach. Since the Pope is so supportive of this "new" evangelism, you can readily find material from Papal and other church writings, and certainly from the Gospel itself.
The third aspect I would propose was hinted at in the paragraph above, and that is persistence. You will not succeed with a one man show using a one time heavy handed approach. Instead, enlist the help of others and give your project months and years to develop. Sow the seeds of conversion and spiritual enrichment and nurture them to grow. Be flexible and allow people in your sphere of influence to be themselves, but to feel included in the Christian way. Invite, incite, and delight. There are a lot of hungry souls who yearn for something more than our secular culture can provide. God will bless you and your efforts as He does all of us and may His love shine from you like a beacon. In your efforts do not neglect those who are already in the fold, as they need regular encouragement too and reinforcement for the work they do.
Monday, January 2, 2012
When asked, "Why then do you baptize?
John answered them,
"I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
I envy John who had first hand knowledge of Jesus. Despite living 2000 years after he walked the earth, I still feel that I can and do have a personal relationship with Jesus, just not on that level as John did. John spoke with conviction, without concern about his own personal effect. In addition he spoke with irony, as Jesus was humble and sought to serve others, not to be treated with royal decorum.
In my journey to know and relate to Jesus, I discovered after seeking advice of people who know, that all I had to do was talk to Jesus. These simple prayers have been a great reinforcement for my Christian development. In turn, I feel that I have been amply welcomed into the Kingdom, insofar as we experience it here on earth with Jesus and the Father.
I am reasonably confident that I am at still a very preliminary stage of knowing Christ. He is patient, and asks more of me when I make movements toward him. More of an effort to know the Word of God. More of an effort to witness his faith, and to develop my ways of the world that show that Jesus is Lord, that he is in my life and that I am standing up to show his glory.
May I listen to Jesus who gently urges all of us to follow him. He does not show his bodily form. Instead, he blesses our brothers and sisters and ourselves and asks us to celebrate his Kingdom here and now. I pledge to listen closer to the call and to call you and together we will journey toward Christ and his Kingdom. What could be a greater purpose for today and for the rest of all time!
Jesus you call me to serve you each day in my daily life which has many ordinary qualities and many which are extraordinary. May I be blessed to listen to you and to experience what John the Baptist did when he replied in the above quoted scripture. Those who heard John most certainly experienced his strong first hand brand of faith in Christ. May I show a fraction of this same enthusiasm, faith and good will in my life for your glory. Amen!