Musings, On Being Called A Christian... February 23rd 2022
There have been a few times in my 40+ years post confirmation (affirmation of faith) that I’ve been ashamed to call myself a Christian – in fact, I've come to prefer being called a follower of the Way of Jesus… Christian seems so definitive – as if you’ve arrived… but I digress…
I found myself ashamed to be identified as a person of faith this past week as stories of those backing the protest in Ottawa unfolded… I cringed inside to be lumped into the same category…
It used to be that I could brush such association off – actions speak louder than words I would say to myself and I would go about doing all the good I could in all the places that I could…
Someone, in one of my too many social media feeds, posted a picture of a protester who’d been arrested for assaulting an officer politely kicking the snow from their boots as they entered the paddy wagon… and I remember thinking, “What?!?!”
And then it dawned on me – it’s not enough to simply do the right thing. In the words Jesus from the gospel on Sunday, “…what credit is that to you?” Actions are not enough. It is past time for many of us to use our words more.
Those of us who identify as progressive, inclusive, people of faith, spiritual but not religious, left of centre, justice seeking, social justice minded followers of the way of Jesus are often unpracticed and even reluctant to speak about our faith.
Like me, many of us have thought our actions would do the speaking for us – heaven forbid, we’d not want to be accused of proselytizing – I get it. I understand this concern, but it’s time to get over it.
I am not speaking here about using our words to convert people. Not at all. I am saying we need to become more comfortable putting language around our beliefs as a counterpoint to the incredible negativity that is overwhelming what it means to follow Jesus.
If you are a follower of Jesus and you share the same frustrations I do, then I invite and challenge you to give voice to how you understand the teachings of Jesus and what it means to follow the Way.
Use your own words. Speak of what you personally understand, perhaps something such as these:
“Jesus teaches that we are to love our neighbors and our enemies, and I’m trying to figure out how to do that daily with my actions.”
“When Jesus speaks about poor and hungry people, the sick and those in prison, he says to treat them as if they are him. I’m doing my best to do that - and its not always easy.”
“Jesus’ ministry is one of nonviolent action on behalf of those who struggle most - proclaiming God's preferential option for the poor, which means asking difficult questions of the systems we are all a part of.”
As I used to say to one of my children as they were learning to talk and they would use gestures and get frustrated when I did not understand, "Use your words." Speak your beliefs, for this is what is needed when our actions are drowned out by the actions and voices of others. There is no need to argue. There is no need to defend your faith – for when we live the words we speak, we are the gospel embodied.
I took Monday off and made my way over to the Island where I got to have a visit with mom and dad. Unfortunately a truck in front of me threw a rock at my windshield and I had to spend Wednesday morning at Speedy Glass getting that fixed. Tuesday morning was spent waiting for the appliance repair person as the fridge was sounding as if it wanted to fly south! If February over vet?
I did manage to share in two Zoom meetings and three pastoral visits in the office on Tuesday before spending the balance of the afternoon at the Drew. It was so lovely to get to visit with the residents there again.
Today (Wednesday) I am in the office doing some planning and writing for the morning and in the afternoon I'll be off doing a few visits.
The plan for Thursday is to work from home and finalize things for Sunday and begin working on the Ash Wednesday liturgy.
Friday and Saturday will be days off and on Sunday we will gather via Zoom (and Facebook Live) for a Conversation Cafe with Jordana Wright. The link to the Zoom meeting will be circulated by email. If you don't receive it please contact me directly and I'll send it to you - and remember you can still take part via Facebook Live too!
I am so excited that we are returning to in-person gatherings as we begin Lent. I have so missed the joy and energy of the gathered community on Sunday mornings! Our first in-person gathering will be Wednesday March 2nd at 6:30PM where we will share in an Ash Wednesday liturgy. On Sunday March 6th we will gather at 11AM for the first Sunday of Lent as we explore the theme: Full To The Brim: Even in the Desert.