Friday, March 16, 2018

We Wish to See Jesus

This past week, at the invitation of Bishop Lee, I have been in Cleveland, Ohio attending the Evangelism Matters conference hosted by the Episcopal Church. Bishop Lee nominated my friend, Mthr. Mo O'Connor, Zach Dyrda, and me as the three "evangelism catalysts" from the Diocese of Chicago to bring back ideas and learnings from the conference to inspire and share with others. We have spent the last three days with about 400 clergy and lay leaders from across the church to learn how to invite people to join us as followers of Jesus, to network and to form new friendships, but most of all to share our stories about how God has transformed our lives. That is the essence of evangelism: to share our Good News with others, ask them to share their own stories, and then invite them to experience MORE, more belonging, more acceptance, more love, more redemption.

In this Sunday's Gospel reading, the Greeks come up to Philip and say, "sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip runs to Andrew and tells him about the request, and then the two of them tell Jesus. Our Lord's response is sobering. In order to see Jesus, we have to let go of much that makes us feel safe. We have to let go of our egos. We have to let go of our mistrust. We have to let go of our sense of entitlement. We have to learn to be vulnerable, to share and entrust our stories of pain and redemption with each other, and then go out into the world to invite others to be vulnerable with us, for there is no true community without vulnerability and trust. Let me be clear, the goal of evangelism is not to grow the church, to fill our pews. The goal of evangelism is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and bring Jesus's unconditional love to the lost, the despondent, and the discarded people of the world. With such good news to share, we hope that other people will want to join us. But the work before us is to learn to be faithful followers of Jesus by loving others as he has loved us. If we want to see Jesus, then we must speak, and walk, and live as he did.

Abundant blessings,
Fr. Ethan+

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