1 John 2:12-13 – “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of Zion,
May the joy of the Incarnation of God saturate your hearts as we transition from the season of Christ to the time after the Epiphany. Jesus was born in order that God Himself would come to you. He set up shop in this world – in time, in history, and certainly in the present by His Spirit through His Word and Sacraments – so you would know He is reaching out to you. This reality of God reaching out to you, to this community, to friend and family, is our big theme and focus at Zion for the time after Epiphany leading us up to Lent.
One place in which we all could do some reaching out, knowing God in Christ has reached out to you first, is in our very own homes and circle of influence. When people hear about outreach or that scary word, evangelism, thoughts often go to knocking on doors for hours on end. Now, if the Holy Spirit is compelling you to do that, God bless you! But if that sounds a bit out of your comfort zone, look no further than your own family to bear witness to. But how does one witness to their own family? With great care, patience, persistence, and prayer.
Perhaps your spouse or your children have wandered from the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As you think about how to reach out to them, it is important to not scold or deride them. In the midst of frustration, it can be easy to lay a thick guilt trip on those we love. Generally, as some of you might have experienced, that doesn’t work. Instead of laying on the guilt ask questions to get them talking and thinking. For example, you could ask: “Help me understand why is it you have stopped going to worship or don’t want to go to church?” Answers might include job stress, busy family life, or perhaps because they just don’t want to. They might have huge God questions that they’ve been wrestling with and haven’t found a safe space to air out those concerns or heard answers to their satisfaction. What you need to do is be prepared for whatever answers that could come your way.
Whatever they share with you, it’s important that, even if you disagree with their reasoning, you thank them for talking with you about God and you tell them how the Lord matters so much to you and you want the Lord to matter so much to them because they matter so much to the Lord. Feel free to send them or their questions to Pastor Gjerde, myself, or Vicar Pinzl. We thoroughly love answering those questions and though we might not have all the answers, we can help foster a safe space for the doubts, concerns, fears, or frustrations to be brought up. Also know that if you simply pray with your family, your friends, those in your circle of influence, praying with someone can be a powerful moment to get them thinking once again about the things of God. More could be said, but let this suffice for now!
God’s peace to you and yours as you reach out and God in Christ has reached out to you!
Pastor Chris Johnson