Really New Evangelism. The 3 R’s. The First “R”.
We are all inside of our skin.
When we come across good news we long to tell it and to share it. The more it excites us the more urgent is our desire for others to listen, to hear our news. We want to impart, to give.
The reality is that we each live within our own skins. People think I am always on the move, changing places. Not at all: I’ve been inside my skin all the time, that’s where the real changes take place for me and for all of us – in our hearts, in our minds and also in this skin which contains each of us. None of us want this place to be invaded: access should only be by invitation.
Receiving the Word of others.
I have wondered and prayed for many years about how to talk, to know what to say, about God, the Gospel, Jesus, and everything which might make up an “Evangelical package”. I still know my Catechism answers and also accept that how I am in myself, expressed in what I do and say every day, is testimony or witness to God’s love, or so I would like it to be. Yet words about God, Jesus and the whole bundle of Christian teaching do not flow easily from me.
I do tell people that I pray; that I give time to prayer. Most people I meet on my travels take this as an opening to explain to me that they, too, pray but don’t like the churches or religions or priests. They add their horror stories of insensitive clergymen, sadistic nuns and judgemental neighbours. Often they put in a good word for Buddhism and re-incarnation while various forms of paganism are held in high esteem for their embracing of Nature.
Receiving, Receiving, Receiving.
I often wonder why atheists should bother about being Confirmed but I meet quite a few. Every now and then my logical part is right with them. Many atheists also pray and, strange as it may seem, are often outwardly loving, generous and Christian folk. I receive what they say to me about their beliefs as a gift.
My vocation, I now feel, is neither to teach nor to preach. I practise as best as I can passive evangelism – a form of contemplation in inaction. I receive and welcome, without either moral or intellectual judgement, the musings, the stories, the beliefs, the angers and fears and joys of those I meet. It is an easy yoke after all. I am enriched by so many and would be quite struck dumb if I didn’t frequently encounter a strong affinity with others in my deepest core, in the place where Love has begged to be invited in and has always been hiding. It’s then that conversation begins and I am converted: over and over again. It all happens inside my skin.
To be touched, to be moved, to be silent, to be present, to let be and to love: to be hungry for all of these is to tell the Good News. Of course there are a fair number of really boring people – that’s the bad news. Some of them even preach in our churches. That ministry, I think, is a very special calling. However, the really Good News for evangelists is that there is no need to preach or teach or mention God, as the second “R” will confirm.