Preached (without any notes at all) about evangelism and spiritual direction this morning.

Talked about how we all have had bad experiences of being evangelized that color how we think about what many Episcopalians refer to as the “E’ word.  I shared how in college some guy came on campus talking about the pigs and the Christians (are you a Christian, or are you a pig?) …  After a couple of minutes of this I left.  But not before telling the speaker that I considered myself a Christian.  And for the first time in my life he had made me embarrassed to admit it.  (Two people in the congregation had had good, as well as bad experiences of being evangelized.  Everyone had bad experiences.)

I suggested that in our bad experiences, however well intentioned, it was not about us at all.  It was about converting us to their beliefs and fitting us in their theological boxes.  It had nothing to do with our spiritual life.

I suggested that what we saw in the beginning of John’s gospel was a different model.  Folks (like Andrew) out on a spiritual quest (with John the Baptist) were pointed in Jesus’ direction.  (“Behold the Lamb of God.”)  And they shared their excitement with those they knew (like Peter) on a similar journey.  And then other folks from their home town heard about it.  And when Nathanael was less than enthusiastic in his response (“can anything good come from Nazareth?”) instead of putting him down or condemning him, he was invited to come and see for himself.  Did this fit in with his spiritual journey?

I suggested that you might think of John (the Baptist) as being a spiritual friend to Jesus — someone traveling the same path who might have insights to share.  And that Jesus’ (to me) puzzling response to Andrew’s question (“where are you staying”) actually sounded like a spiritual director’s sort of question (i.e. why are you asking this?  what’s at stake for you?)  It was all about the spiritual life of the other person — on their on terms, in their own frames of reference.  Maybe if we talked about being spiritual friends (rather than evangelists) we might do the task appointed us without carrying a lot of unnecessary baggage?

Because God is active in all our lives all the time.  And we and God are the authorities in our own life.  God is developing a relationship with us — not the one’s who might want to shape and direct us!

That’s kind of the point of this morning’s story where Eli finally realizes that God is talking to Samuel (and that Samuel needs to hear what God has to say, not what Eli has to say.)

It was a lot more developed in church.  But I rather like where God sent me this week as I prepared this sermon!

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