…. that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name … is the aspiration phrase of the Collect for Sunday. I was struck by the similarity of the word ‘preserve’ from the petition phrase and ‘persevere’, thought a quick look at the dictionary revealed no linguistic connection; perhaps it’s a topic for another day. For now; however, I am drawn by the ideal connecting faith and the confession of Jesus’, The Christ, name.
One draw is the growing realization that to be healthy any congregation must be inviting people into said confession by inviting people into the transforming presence of God, in Christ Jesus. And the hard truth that any other motivation, known or unknown, is often perceived by seekers as smoke and mirrors, thus abolishing any authenticity.
The second draw is how that invitation is offered. Too often congregations rely on tried and true traditional methods, of vital worship, relevant education/formation opportunities, new comer groups, child care etc, all of which can be important. None the less I keep coming back to the belief that “confessing Jesus’ name” is much more about touching people lives.
Last night I was a part of the volunteer at our local charitable clinic. It was a busy night, we saw more patients than customary and filled the largest number of prescriptions we ever have. We touched lives. But the story that truly demonstrates how the clinic touches lives was about a 2 hour conversation between a patient and a volunteer concerning managing the patient’s diabetes, which was dangerously out of control, 2 or three clinics ago. The patient saw the Doctor, got an excellent review of their current condition, and then sought out the volunteer who helped her to share the good news. Part of that story was the patient’s sharing “ I’ve started cooking.”
I know the information the patient got had been previously given. I believe the difference is the personal time committed to the patient, which quietly said “Jesus loves you.” and fanned the flame of hope dangerously close to being extinguished.
My gleaning is that as we seek to confess Jesus we might consider the older tradition: act / be present more and speak less.