Praying Shapes Believing is one of the standard texts for anyone who is discerning a call to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church. It has been for at least two decades, even if the Eucharistic Prayer chapter based on what is now thought to be some pretty outdated scholarship (that’s another post). My own discernment process in Central Pennsylvania was pretty well based on the structure of this text, so its core concepts are engrained in me, and I am a firm believer that the things we pray for eventually become the things we believe and the things we believe shape the way we act.
Thus, I read with great excitement the Collect for Epiphany 3, which at Christ Church is also Annual Meeting Sunday.
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Would that we really wanted this prayer to be answered. Would that all of us were ready, by God’s grace, to answer the call of Jesus to share the Good News of salvation with all people. Would that we weren’t, and I’m not saying anything about “we” that I don’t also mean for “me,” weren’t so afraid of what others have done in the name of Jesus that sometimes, we hide our own faith under a bushel basket.
I’ve written extensively on the Episcopal Church’s discomfort with evangelism as anything more than doing good deeds. I’d be happy to send you my doctoral thesis, if you need help falling asleep at night. Alas, we’ve taken to heart this made up anachronistic supposed saying of Saint Francis, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” to the detriment of the Gospel and the lament of our churches. As followers of Jesus, who experience the Gospel as a Way of Love rather than a way of fear, judgement, or condemnation, we should be the one’s out there, shouting from the rooftops the Good News of God in Christ.
We might not be there, yet, but thanks be to God for this prayer, which I hope will lead to belief in the importance of evangelism, which I hope will then lead us outside of these walls with the Good News of Christ Jesus in our hearts and on our lips.