A Bible Reading: Luke 9. 1 - 6 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
We come to the third of the Leading Your Church into Growth (LYCIG) ‘Four Ps’ this week: Proclamation. This is a crucial part of discipleship. Jesus sent the disciples out with clear instructions to proclaim the kingdom of God. And this is good news! As believers, we are all called to gossip the gospel.
Now I freely admit this is much easier as a vicar. As soon as people see the collar, they know who I am, and because I am a vicar they expect me to talk about God. However, in reality, proclaiming good news is just about me sharing something of my story of faith with another person, sharing how my belief in Jesus is worked out in the normal ups and downs of daily life. Let me give you a few contrasting examples:
The birth of a new baby is always thrilling, but the birth of two identical twin granddaughters is particularly special. It is not difficult for a delighted grandmother to wax lyrical about her latest new arrivals. Chloe and Naomi are the tiniest family babies we have welcomed and their arrival and rapport with each other has made me marvel all over again that we are indeed ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139. 14) And it’s not too difficult to pass the good news on!
During lockdown, we have all become more aware of creation and our natural environment. ‘Mindfulness’ moments have pervaded nature programmes like Winterwatch, but they have even appeared on news’ bulletins. Yet the Christian church has been practising the presence of God prayerfully out amongst nature for centuries. This again is good news worth sharing.
By way of contrast, various people actually asked me openly how I reconciled Anna’s illness and subsequent death with my Christian faith. Had I ever lost my faith? Had Anna's death caused me to doubt? These were more uncomfortable and painful conversations for me, but nevertheless the enquirers had genuinely wanted to know the answers. No, I had not lost my faith, but I had discovered that my Christian belief could be both a comfort and a challenge, as I worked through my sense of anger, loss and grief. This raw honesty became a form of proclamation in itself.
These are just everyday casual conversations and a good place to start, so why not give it a go and simply share your story of faith with someone else. However, we can also invite people to specific proclamation events and services, where they will hear the good news of Jesus presented in different ways: seasonal services; social events with a Christian guest speaker; Men’s Breakfast; a Songs of Praise evening; BBQs and dinner parties. The list is endless. Why not give it a go with your family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours? And look out for events and services to invite them to.
Missional God, who sent the disciples out to proclaim the kingdom, give us opportunities to share our story and your story with those around us. Amen.