On Thursday I hosted a group of clergy for our Area Deanery Meeting. The time together consisted of Worship, a meal and a meeting. The “hosting” part of the day went well – with the menu being a real hit.
BUT – I had been asked to give a short homily on the readings and, unfortunately I got myself into a bit of a “tizz”, feeling incredibly inadequate with clergy who have more up to date scholarship than I do. I knew what I wanted to say but faced with the reality of my peers I confess to panicking and left aside the object lesson I had planned for fear of the judgments of the “learned”. I was so concerned about the opinions of my peers that I was unable to act and speak according to my calling.
The readings of the day told of Abrahams close relationship with God (and the covenant God made with Abraham – Genesis 17:3-9) and Jesus trying to explain his relationship with God to a group of skeptical and, increasingly, angry Pharisees (John 8:51-59).
Abraham’s relationship with God did not depend on prior reading or academic training. It was dependent on the suspension of disbelief, openness to the divine in creation and a trust that is almost childlike in its simplicity. The Pharisees came at “God” from a very different place… they relied on their endless books of law and written and well debated knowledge. They had read the prophets but were not open to the advent of God in their midst. Their expressions of “faith” are seen as hypocritical assertions to protect their own power, wealth and the maintenance of the status quo.
Jesus spoke from a deeper knowledge, more intimate knowledge, and he did so without concern for the opinion of others or for his own safety.
This, in fact was the message I wanted to give, without sounding self-indulgent or “wishy-washy”. I’m sure I came across as both!
The reality is that I can only truly share my faith in God, and introduce Jesus to others, if I speak from what I know… not from what I am told or read … but what I know from my own experience of the presence of God in my life. If I try to please others I am false and my words do not ring true.
The same is true for us all.