I am in the midst of preparing a devotional resource for my congregation for our next sermon series: W.O.R.S.H.I.P. Over the course of seven week, we will be looking at the various aspects of our worship and how it is impacts the many parts of our lives: not just our life of faith, but our lives as a whole. Guiding us is the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. Calhoun has organized her book around the acronym W.O.R.S.H.I.P.:
Open Myself to God
Relinquish the False Self and Idols of my Heart
Share my Life with Others
Hear the Word of God
Incarnate the Love of Christ
In her book, Calhoun describes spiritual practices that are meant to transform us. While some include the traditional disciplines such as fasting and silence, she also includes practices such as gratitude, detachment, encouragement, and truth telling. One of the spiritual practices for Share My Life with Others is Witness. This is scary for most people. It brings up images of going door to door or engaging in a theological defense of Christianity. But as I’ve written before in Testify, witnessing is really about telling our own story of our experience of Jesus. Because it’s our experience, there really isn’t anything to defend. Rather, it’s just part of the story we tell.
Like many people, I don’t have one moment I can point to when I first heard the Gospel or first believed it. Instead, it’s a spiral of experiences that bring me closer – and sometimes farther – to God. There is not one “aha!” moment, but a series of experiences of clarity where I realized I have encountered the Risen Lord.
When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” – Luke 8:47-48 (NRSV)
One of the passages that is the Gospel for me is Luke 8:47-48. I wasn’t miraculously healed but I have had the experience of realizing I cannot remain hidden from God. Just like this woman, Jesus sees me clearly for everything that I am and I respond with confession. And like this woman, Jesus has said to me that I have been healed through faith (sometimes mine, sometimes Jesus’) and the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding has settled upon me. My witness is that God both sees me and loves me. That Jesus heals me and gives me peace. That the Holy Spirit continues to keep me close to Jesus.
My story isn’t flashy or a tear-jerker. It isn’t going to cause 3,000 people to become baptized like Peter’s Pentecost sermon. I don’t think it’s going to move anyone to join the church or give it money. And it will not answer the question of predestination or the immaculate conception. It’s simply my story of knowing Jesus.