By Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt
When members of the clergy are given the opportunity to say a ‘few words’ in a public setting, they hardly ever do”.
My Old Testament Preaching professor offered his viewpoint and then used it to set the framework for the term: “In your presentations in front of the class, you will be expected to limit yourselves to three minutes. In that time, you will reflect on the assigned Old Testament passage, make a link to the Gospel and bridge the message offered in the biblical passages to a contemporary issue.”
Four decades have passed since that course, but I have not forgotten the essential message that my professor was offering.
Words are important.
How we use words to convey what we think and what we believe, whether it is in an intimate setting, in front of a thousand people, or through the use of social media (especially through the social media opportunities not available four decades ago), is important. If we do not communicate well, the message of the community of faith gets tuned out and we become inaudible.
A person I knew used to keep her stenographic skills sharp by attending Evening Prayer services, simply to take down the words of the sermon, as if they were being dictated, then she would take them home and type them up, to be read at her leisure. Words used in the context of worship helped her to develop the skills she needed for her employment and their content, which she had heard, typed and re-read, helped shape her spiritual life.
How does the world know that the Anglican Church, YOUR church, exists?
Time, effort, energy and resources are being invested in enabling people to make connections through the use of social media as a platform of introduction to communities of faith. Each individual parish website expresses its unique liturgical style and special congregational ministry priorities in an attempt to woo the wandering, searching soul. Yet, at the same time, the Anglican experience of the Christian Faith calls us to be, “…mutually responsible and interdependent members of the Body of Christ…”
In one part of the Diocese of Huron, that I am aware of, in the entire month leading up to the observance of the Season of Christmas 2017, there was no indication through any paid advertisement on the Religion page of the regional paper that the Anglican Church of Canada even exists.
Large newspaper ads may not be within the financial grasp of some congregations, however, even a brief word generating some kind of visibility, indicating an online presence would at least let some members of the community know, especially those who still pick up a newspaper and read it, that the Anglican Church does exist, and still does have a pulse!
Using every means possible to convey a message of welcome, availability and an invitation to enter into the life of a caring community of faith is an essential element in a ministry of hospitality.
During the month of February, a variety of means will be used to convey a simple message from one human being to another. “I Love You”, is a message which falls well within a Twitter word limiting regulation!
“I Love You”, is a message which may be expanded on as the person conveying the message underlines the sincerity of their devotion for even more than the three minutes that my professor set as a limit.
“I Love You“, is a message of Divine Love for humanity which is a message communities of faith seek to share throughout the year as worship is offered as a response to the expression of that Divine Love in the person of Jesus.
Wherever you are, I invite you to communicate with others and discover ways in which your community of faith and the faith which you profess to hold dear, are neither inaudible nor invisible!
We have God’s message of Love to share in a world that is seeking to experience it through worship and fellowship, if only we speak up and offer the invitation.
Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt has retired from full time parish ministry, but continues to offer priestly ministry in the Diocese of Huron.