We are being challenged at every turn to take the powerful message of God’s creative and saving love out into the world, into the marketplace and into the communities in which we serve. And we make it hard. Like Moses, we tell God we can’t do that. We aren’t eloquent enough or smart enough. I have discovered that if we listen well, the very person who needs to hear the Good News will give us the words to share God’s story in ways that she or he can hear.
Jesus modeled this all the time. Whenever he was asked a question, he did not go off into a theological treatise, he pointed to the children in the midst of them or the vineyards that surrounded them or the sheep on the hills being tended by their shepherds. These were things they knew and understood. At the same time they conveyed the love of God in thought provoking ways. We have the opportunity to do the same in our everyday lives.
I had the privilege of officiating at my nephew’s wedding. It was held near the family’s dairy farm in a very pretty setting. The young couple had met in school where they studied dairy husbandry. They both live and breathe cows not just for the milk production but also for the pedigrees. The American Kennel Club has nothing on the dairy industry when it comes to showing and breeding animals at their best.
So on the morning of the wedding, I was asking my nephew how his Guernseys had done in their classification—a measure of their conformation. He proceeded to go on at great length about each cow by name. I said to him, “When you breed these cows, you take great care to select a good mate for them, correct?” He agreed. But then I challenged him by asking whether or not there was any guarantee for the results. His response was immediate. “No, it’s more of a promise.”
God gave me the words for this young couple on their wedding day and it came from the groom and their shared lives together. Wedding vows are ‘more of a promise’—ones they would make to each other. But more importantly, they took these vows in the presence of God. And whatever happens, we know God keeps God’s promises. God will be with them as they work on keeping theirs. That is a guarantee.
God’s promise to us at our baptism is that we are beloved of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever. As we are challenged to take this message to the world and are feeling inadequately equipped, remember, God keeps God’s promises.
Canon Martha Ishman, Rector at St. James, Titusville and Canon for Mission Development and Transition, Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania