The book of Acts tells the story of how the fledgling church began; how the disciples transitioned from feeling lost and scattered to developing their own ministry in the world. This ministry included reliance on the Jewish faith the disciples were rooted in, but it moved beyond the `authorities’ of priests & scribes and lawmakers to living out the `kingdom of God at hand’. They found ways to teach what they had experienced or understood as they tried to follow the way of Jesus of Nazareth. In the Pentecost story Peter says, ‘This is the outpouring of the Spirit as the prophet Joel foretold: “… I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, your elders shall dream dreams. Even upon those enslaved – both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit and they will prophesy.” The Holy Spirit, is not just for some, it’s for everyone, and it’s active and ongoing.
So… here we are some 2000 years later and we got here because somewhere along the line something happened – we had an experience, or someone shared a biblical story or hymn or prayer with us, and it set us on a journey of questioning and discovering. We’re still on that journey.
Last year at B.C. Conference it was a privilege to listen to the stories of a variety of people in ministry, and hear how their faith journey’s began or shifted, as they experienced the Sacred Presence calling them to see in a new way, calling them home to their faith roots, calling them out of chaos to find their gifts affirmed and called upon.
One of the speakers said, “We’re NOT all the same deep down, because when we say that, we might be saying, “We’re all like me.” How we experience God is unique to who we are.
In early April I spent a morning with four people who attend Canoe United Church but wanted to formally transfer their membership there. Well, I couldn’t do my six week membership course with them, so I scaled it back to the basics – getting to know a bit about their faith journey.
I simply asked a couple questions that gave an opportunity for sharing stories. I realized in that two hours I learned more about them, than I know about some of you – after 5 years of being in ministry together! I thought – well that’s just wrong. Why shouldn’t you have that opportunity to share you stories with one another too? So on this Sunday when we celebrate the roots of the Christian faith, I want to celebrate your faith roots as well.
Give yourself a few minutes to let those memories come to you, and I invite you to share them as you wish. (time of sharing).
People did indeed share – stories of going to Sunday school with grandparents, or a teacher who gave them hard raspberry candy if they were quiet in class, someone delighted to sing Jesus Loves Me, and realize that someone loved them – stories lovely and fun.
Here are the questions (for you dear reader)
What was your earliest experience of religion/God/Jesus etc.?
Who was instrumental in your spiritual journey?