When many of us think of an evangelist, we think of someone who has much more personality or knowledge of the Bible than us. An evangelist is a someone who has great faith, much more than ordinary folks like us. Or, at least, that is what we imagine. The truth is that evangelists are ordinary people who seek to do what God wants everyone to do. God wants us to share our faith with others so that they might find their own faith in Jesus. We tell others how faith shapes and informs our lives so that they can be open to the possibility of faith in their own life. It is like sharing the insider information for life. We go to those around us to find service providers, such as mechanics and hair dressers, so we do the same thing with something much more important.
St. Patrick’s Day is known for the joyous celebration of Irish heritage, green beer, and leprechauns. Yet, if we take the time to look up St. Patrick, we find someone who went from a wealthy family to being kidnapped. He was forced to be a slave in Ireland. While a slave, he heard God calling him to flee Ireland. Eventually, he went back to Ireland to share his faith with the people. The place of his enslavement was also the place where he reached out to others. Many accounts paint him as an ordinary person, although we don’t know much about him. We think that he probably died on March 17, so we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on that day.
We learn from him that no matter what our background, God can use us. We are all called to share our faith. God can use each one of us, but we have to open ourselves to God’s call on our lives. As we move through the season of Lent, I wonder what God is calling you to do. It may be that God is calling you to invite friends and family to worship with you on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. It can be about more than eggs and bunnies. It can be an opportunity to share faith. St. Patrick used ordinary items to share faith. What will you use?
Celebrating Valentine’s Day can be a joy or a burden. Some struggle with the constant reminders of romantic love. Some struggle with the pressure to buy traditional gifts regardless of personal preference or finance. Some mourn a love lost. Some mourn a love that has never been. Others are truly celebrating. They are full of love and want the whole world to know. There are often surprises for some and for others life changing decisions. No matter how you feel about Valentine’s Day, God loves you.
God loves you completely and unconditionally. It is a love larger than any love that one person can feel for another person. It is a love larger than what we feel for ourselves at times. It is a love that is present before we are even aware, and it is a love that continues always. This love is not only for us, but it is a love God has for everyone.
This Valentine’s Day maybe we should consider how we respond to God’s love. In this season of reflection and preparation, maybe it is time that we look at how we share God’s love with others in the world. Are we as loving as we can be, or are we pre-occupied with our own feelings? Are we wrapped up in ourselves and our circle of friends, or do we consider those beyond our personal circle? Do you show care for those in your daily life, or do you demand that they march to the beat of your drum?
Many in our world spend a great deal of time and energy on finding and cultivating a romantic love. What if you gave God a tenth of that time to showing love to other people? If we reached out to one new person each day for the rest of Lent, would our perspective change?
We hear this question during this time of year. Some of us even give something up. Why? We know that at times there are assorted medical tests and procedures that require fasting, but those are for accurate results or avoiding potential problems. These are about physical well-being, not about spiritual disciplines. Some have fasted in protest of an unjust practice. This is not a spiritual discipline, but it is a response to a human behavior.
Giving up something or fasting is a way for us to grow in our spiritual lives. As we deny ourselves, we are able to become more aware of God’s sacrificial gift for us. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, fasted weekly. Fasting allows us to pay penitence for our overindulgences. It also allows more time for prayer. We fast from something we depend on so that we may more fully depend on God. Many of us think of a traditional fast, such as giving up food or drink. However, there are other types of fasts. Some give-up social media for Lent. Still others abstain from meat during Lent.
Consider this spiritual discipline for yourself and your family. You may choose to give up alcohol, chocolate, food on Fridays, Face Book, going to the movies, potato chips, texting, or some other thing that is a part of your daily life. In the giving up, you are making more room in your life for God.
Are you ready? This is a question we ask ourselves as well as others. We ask others if they are ready when it is time to go or begin. We ask ourselves if we have everything we need for an event, journey or process. We are checked for readiness for medical procedures, roller coaster rides,worship experiences, and leaving our home.
We all struggle to find the place where we belong. Christians have a place of belonging. We belong to God.