Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The LORD appeared to Joe Schmoe at the bus stop on a frigid February afternoon

I'm preparing to write an exegesis paper on Genesis 18:1-15, along with the rest of my Old Testament class; it's due Monday. And it's gotten me wondering about how (or whether) we ever talk about our own personal encounters with God. I mean, look at this sentence:

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. (Gen. 18:1)

Do you have sentences like that from your own life? Here are a few of mine:

The LORD appeared to Josh in a dream when he was eleven years old.

The LORD appeared to Christy and Josh in the second of Josh’s two apartments on 19th Avenue, as they sat on his bed reading a book at the end of a long, enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend.

The LORD appeared to Josh in the parking lot of McLendon’s hardware store as he was about to buckle his daughter Sarah into her car seat.

I won't tell all these stories now; a couple of them have been told before in other contexts. If you'd like to ask me about one in particular, maybe I'll fill you in on the details.

We talk a lot about evangelism ... and we talk ... and we talk. Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California preached a good sermon here at VTS today about our endless, insane efforts at evangelism, despite which the Episcopal Church shrinks significantly every year.

I'm convinced that this has something to do with us NOT telling our stories, either because we're shy, or because we don't want to offend anybody, or because we don't want to make ourselves vulnerable, or because we honestly are not aware of God acting in our lives.

Abraham's encounter with the LORD was that three strangers came out of the desert, and then something amazing happened. I bet most of our stories also start in a similarly ordinary way.

So here's a good way to start. What are your own stories? If your life were to be told in sacred Scripture, with what sentence might you begin one of the stories of the LORD appearing to you? Overcome your shyness enough just to share the first sentence. Then consider how you might tell the rest of the story.

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