Posted on Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Our Mission Statement begins by saying, “The mission of Trinity-by-the-Cove is to spread the Good News of the Gospel...” Episcopalians are not known for our Evangelism. In fact, we dread the “e-word.” Our reticence is not unreasonable. The lesson that many of us learned as children not to discuss politics and religion has made many a meal with friends and family enjoyable, when they could have been unpleasant.
Our resistance to the “e-word” is also a sign of respect for others. We want to respect the faith and opinions of others, which may be just as personal and deeply held as our own, even if they’re different from ours. Part of being an Episcopalian is being a part of a Church that believes the “communion is larger than confession.” This means that it is more important for there to be a place for everyone than it is for everyone to be in the same place.
And, of course, some of us have had our own bad experiences of well-meaning, but nevertheless offensive “evangelists.” We identify with the Hindu man who sat next to a TV Evangelist on a flight from San Francisco to Calcutta. The Evangelist asked the man if he knew Jesus. “No,” the man said, “I’m a Hindu.” So, the Evangelist “witnessed” to him all the way across the Pacific. When they landed, the Hindu said, “Thank you. I had not known much about Jesus, but I had thought he was a humble man of peace. I see I was quite mistaken.”
We associate “spreading the Good News” with divisive, narrow-minded, belligerent behavior that disrupts community, disrespects others, and distorts the Truth of the Gospel we hold dear. But, consider this: Many of us consider our life at Trinity-by-the-Cove to be one of the most important relationships in our lives. We value our worship, the music, the fellowship, our friends, support in time of trouble, education and growth opportunities, our service to the community, and much more. Our relationship to God and one another at Trinity-by-the-Cove give our life deeper meaning and richness. We’d be lost without it!
So, why wouldn’t we want to share this relationship with others? With our family? With our friends? with the world? We’re not selfish, are we? Of course not! What we need is a way of “spreading the good news” that is welcoming, gracious and respectful. We need a style of evangelism that is modeled on hospitality not conquest. After all, the motto of our Church is “The Episcopal Church welcomes you.”
So, how about this: Feel; Felt; Found...Come and See. The next time a family member or friend or acquaintance expresses a problem or concern or complaint or a longing or hope or anything really that you have experienced in your own life, say this. I know how you feel. I’ve felt the same way myself. I’ve found at Trinity-by-the-Cove.... Come and see ... “Feel; Felt; Found...Come and see” is invitational, welcoming and respectful. And, it may make all the difference in the world to someone you love.
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