‘Well, if he thinks he’s going to get me talking about my faith, he’s got another thought coming!’ The reaction of a churchwarden (not of this diocese) to the suggestion made by a particular bishop that they might have a mission in his diocese, where they tried to share what they knew of Jesus to people who had not yet made the same discovery.
It is a sad, but reasonably common, response. Faith seen as a private affair, something we’re reluctant to talk about even with our friends, those we trust, let alone those we might not know as well. Maybe we’re afraid of being asked questions to things we haven’t got the answers for. Maybe we’re afraid of being thought of as strange. For whatever reason we keep firmly quiet, which means those around us are prevented from discovering the treasures we know – the difference that Jesus can make in an ordinary life, even like ours.
By contrast, one of the things that all three of the bishops in our diocese are looking forward to this year, in response to a challenge from the Archbishop of Canterbury, is to work with our second-year curates and their parishes to see how, together, we can creatively, intentionally and appropriately share what we know to be true with those we are in contact with. That is, across the diocese, in a variety of ways, simply sharing what God means to us, in the hope that others will open themselves up to all that he might have for them as well.
We have a prayer that has been written for these events. Perhaps, at the start of this year, it is a prayer you could use too:
Almighty God, source of our hope and all good things,
You call us in love to share in your work of making your love known to all.
Bless, we pray, all that we do in sharing the story of your love
with those amongst whom we live,
that through us they may catch a glimpse of the love
you have for each one of us,
and find their place within it themselves.
With every blessing,