Sunday's sermon focused on Jesus' command to the Apostles to go to many nations and declare the Word of God- not just hang around Israel, but to get out there and really SPREAD THE WORD.
We joke in the Lutheran Church that we often consider our religious experience a "private matter" and that getting one of us to pray out loud is like pulling teeth! (Not completely true, but you get my drift)
Our small midwest churches are not known for our evangelizing, our member recruitment efforts, or the like....most of us go to church because our parents went to that church, and it is part of the fabric of our lives, often unspoken or acknowledged. We lean towards the conservative, not talking much about religion or politics, rarely swearing in public, and along with this trend, also not declaring our faith very loudly either. We think that by living a good Christian life that our actions are doing the talking for us.
If we want our churches to continue, maybe we have to become more outspoken and share more often with others, even if it makes us uncomfortable talking about God when we are more comfortable talking about the weather, the crops, or football scores.
One of my favorite shows EVER was Joan of Arcadia, and in it this girl was always talking to God, who showed up in the forms of a few distinct characters in her life. In one episode, she was talking to a counselor, and when the subject of God came up, she mentioned that "you only hear people talking about God in church........ or when someone famous wins an award." That part made me smile :-)
Which made me so proud and excited for all of us "less than verbose" Christians when on 2 highly watched reality shows this year, members were very vocal about their Christianity and how important their faith is to them. I actually applauded when I heard them!
First, Matt on Survivor spoke openly about how his relationship with God helped him get through the ordeal, and he shared his faith with his tribe. At least 2 of his tribe members mentioned that they had a renewed interest in religion after spending time with Matt, and they soon were also talking Faith quite openly on the show! WooHoo! Mark one for our team! One gal said she was going to start taking her daughters to church again- you think God wasn't smiling when he heard that one?!
The second one was on American Idol- the winner was just a young man with an incredible voice, and he also thanked God many times for his talent, (and also his mother- bless him!) and he wasn't hesitant to say these things in front of millions of viewers. Think of how many people he may have influenced!! It gives me goosebumps.
THIS is the kind of Declaring that Jesus was talking about. I hope we continue to hear this kind of Faith Talk popping up everywhere in the media, in our communities, and of course, in our home. I need to make a committment to talk more openly in front of my children so that they will feel comfortable to share their faith with others as well.
Wish me luck, but remember- I'm a little shy, and I'm still a Lutheran.