THOUGHTS FROM PASTOR LIZ DAVIS
Greetings in the name of the Risen Christ!
In the season of Easter (50 days in our church calendar), we read from the book of Acts, following the story of the disciples after Jesus died and rose from the dead. We get to see how they lived as a result of experiencing the good news that Jesus is alive. We do this in order to spend time considering how we will live because we have received the good news that Jesus is risen.
As we read through Acts, we discover that the early disciples lived a world much like us. Trade and relative mobility brought various people together. Ideas and religions were diverse. Not everyone knew about the God of Abraham and Moses, and not many people knew about Jesus.
Christianity has held a favored position in our culture for many centuries, but it did not begin that way. While we might bemoan our changing position in our culture and the loss of power that we might feel because Christianity is no longer a given in our society, it also opens new opportunities for us. We do not have to protect the powers of the world (government, institutions) because we rely on them for our favored status. We are free to critique. We are also forced to become more clear on our values and purpose. People no longer assume they or their neighbors are Christian. We have to be ready to answer the question, “why?”
Why are you a Christian? What difference does this faith make in your life? Take a few moments to reflect on your answers. Can you talk about the impact of faith in ways that people who aren’t familiar with faith might understand?
One of the meaningful ways we can share about our faith is through connecting what’s personally most important in our faith with the things other people care about. When we start to talk about faith from the perspective of values another person shares with us, we might help them discover how faith can have something to offer.
One of my favorite tools to use with groups planning to work together, confirmands, and couples who are preparing to marry is a values inventory you can find here: https://www.think2perform.com/values#start By the end of this inventory, you end up with five core values: things that are most important to you. I encourage you to take the inventory and then consider how your faith relates to your core values. Once you’re clear on the faith connection, think about who in your circle of connection shares one of those values with you. Use the value you share as a starting point to talk about why faith is important to you. Maybe they will become more curious about faith as a result of your witness.
When we read Acts, we hear that the church grew astronomically. It can feel a bit discouraging to read that when we often don’t see the same growth today. Numbers aren’t so important as simply being intentional in our faith life and being bold while also respectful in sharing about the difference Jesus makes in our lives. Acts reminds us that the spread of faith is the work of the Holy Spirit: it is God’s work to create faith.
When I joined the United Church Council in taking this values inventory recently, one of my values is ecology/ environment. In this region, I know there are others who share this value with me. Because it’s my own value, it draws me to places and organizations where I meet other people who share this value and they become people with whom I am connected.
The next step is to share how my faith interests with this shared value. I’m really excited that we have a few church-sponsored opportunities to do that. On June 4, we gather together as Our Savior’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and United Lutheran Church for a special event with worship, potluck lunch, and activities that will focus on our Christian call to care for creation and bless Our Savior’s new pollinator garden! Throughout the summer, I’ll be hosting Walks of Wonder to give us an opportunity to spend time outdoors centered in faith. I hope you can join in these and invite friends who might share values of faith, ecology, exercise, community, and sustainability!
The gift of being a congregation together is that we are all folks with different values and different ways of expressing our faith. Together, we experience the wideness of what faith means and can interpret the importance of faith for a wide audience.
God is with you!