April 17, 2018

Opening the Doors

The week after Easter, we always hear the story of Thomas’ questions. And in some places, Thomas gets a bad rap as “doubting.” But I don’t even think this story has much to do with Thomas. Do you know what bothers me most about that story?

The other 10 disciples had already seen the risen Christ, they received the Holy Spirit, but they’re still hiding behind locked doors a week later!

I sometimes feel like that, too. I have experienced Christ, I have received the Holy Spirit, but too often I sit behind a closed and locked door. But Jesus wants us to go! Jesus wants us to share the Good News we’ve received with a broken and hurting world.

That’s called evangelism.

There’s been a bit of a resurgence of evangelism within The Episcopal Church, thanks be to God. Events like Evangelism Matters draw hundreds of people together to learn and grow and be encouraged to share the love of Christ.

And sometimes, it’s the everyday moments when we’re encouraged to share the love of Christ. These past two weeks have provided me some out-of-the-ordinary ways to practice evangelism.

First, there was the air conditioning repair technician that asked me what I did for a living. When I said I was a priest, he proceeded to start a discussion about all the extra-biblical documents that show up on the History Channel, and we were able to talk about church history, tradition, and how the Bible came to be.

Then there was the guy I overheard praying with a cashier at a store. He then walked over to me and asked me if I knew Jesus. (Now, that may be the type of evangelism that makes many Episcopalians uncomfortable, but he had just finished a moving conversation with that cashier...so we can’t be too dismissive). I told him I was a priest, and we were able to talk about his calling to pray for hurting people, and I heard about many great encounters and conversations he’s had.

And then yesterday I got a fundraising call from my college. During the conversation, I mentioned that I left my field of training (marketing and PR) and was now a priest. Then, at the end of the call, the young man said, “You being a priest and all, can I ask you a question?” “Sure,” I said. “Do you believe in once saved, always saved?” he asked. Then we were able to talk about the hope I have, and what we both believe.

Do you want to know the trick about all of these conversations? I didn’t really have to do anything. All I did was talk to people I didn’t know, and the conversation came around to faith. And then I unlocked those doors I was hiding behind, and was able to hear their stories. And I was able to share my story.
Those 11 disciples eventually left that locked room, emboldened by the Holy Spirit, and shared that Good News.

We are called to do the same. The Episcopal Church has put together some great tools to help us do that. It is full of tools to help us share our story, and ways for us to invite others to share theirs.

That is our call. To share the Good News we’ve received, and to look for the ways in which Christ is working in others.

How do you seek to live into that call?