The Episcopal New Yorker Spring 2014 : Page 6

Evangelism: Living the Good News “Let Our Light Shine Out of Darkness” 2Corinthians 4:6 By Helen F. Goodkin hen the editor asked me to write something for the issue on evangelism, I thought of one of my favorite Biblical characters, the Samaritan woman in John 4. When she meets Jesus at the well outside her village, the two engage in genuine interfaith dialogue, sparring with each other about the differences between Judaism, Samaritan beliefs, and Jesus’ own views of how God and humanity are meant to interact. This woman is remark-ably knowledgeable about the tenets of her faith. Yet she becomes overwhelmed when Jesus tells her that in the future neither the Temple in Jerusalem nor that in Samaria will matter, but that believers will worship “in spirit and in truth.” Suddenly, she realizes that the Messiah she has long awaited has indeed come. She returns to her village and invites everyone to come to see Jesus. They all follow her and recognize Jesus as “Savior of the world.” The first interfaith theologian of the New Testament has become the first Christian evangelist. Think about her the next time your parish has “bring a friend to church day.” The only reason the villagers followed her was that they respected and probably loved her. Yet, the church for two thousand years has maligned this woman, saying she was alone at the well at noon because no one liked her; or she had five husbands, Guercino Christ and the Woman of Samaria, oil on canvas, c. 1619-20. and was living in sin, implying she was definitely “Not Our Kind.” But when she told the others about how remarkable this person Jesus God always illumined in your actions the way you intend in your heart? Do those was, they held her in such esteem that they went with her to see him, ignoring the around you love and respect you enough, trust you enough, to want to engage with heat of the day and forgetting their animosity towards Jews. Thus, God’s work was you in understanding God’s presence in their lives? The best and perhaps the only way to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ is done by a woman in this small patch of the Holy Land. This story makes me think of the words attributed to St. Francis, “Preach the to live in such a way, day in and day out, that those with whom we interact, say “I Gospel always, if necessary use words.” The ministry of St. Francis was built not so want to be like her.” I want some of that Light for myself. If we don’t show love much on “telling” people what to believe, but on living life in such a way that oth-and respect for one another, why would anyone be interested in learning about the ers wanted to follow his chosen path, the path that Jesus has laid out. Like St. faith undergirds our lives? It is only in living the Good News of God’s love that we are able to spread the Good News. Francis, something about this woman made the others follow her. Several chapters after his encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus gives his In reality, anything that we humans have to say about our faith is always imper-fect. Our words can never measure up to what Jesus has said. But, like St. Francis, followers “a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved we each should try to preach the Gospel with our lives, living as one committed to you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my the Good News of the Gospel, which is the very root of the word evangelism. “Let disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) Jesus calls us to love your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory as he loves. This seems simple enough, but as we all know, it is rather difficult. Yet, to your Father in heaven,” Jesus says. (Matthew 5:16) We need to let our light to be true evangelists, like St. Francis or the Samaritan woman, we must let love for shine in the world so that people see it as the light of God and are stirred to see, others illumine our lives so profoundly that it becomes a beacon of light for the world. We need to live it and to share it, with each other, with our parishes, with not us, but God working in the world. The Matthew quote, of course, puts us right in the middle of the Sermon on the our communities, with the world. But, don’t just read my words, read the Bible: John chapters 4 and 13, and Mount (chapters 5-7), the greatest compendium of guidance on what is important in life and how best to live a life that reflects these values. It is in attempting to live Matthew 5-7. One might also read John 15:1-17, the Discourse on the True Vine, into these values that we reflect God’s presence in our lives. This is the way we wit-a meditation on the interconnectedness of the Christian community in which Jesus repeats the commandment to love one another. ness to our faith. So, when you think about evangelism, think about how you live your life. Think about how you interact with your family, your co-workers, the guy at the cleaners, Goodkin serves on the vestry of the Church of the Epiphany, Manhattan, and frequently your cab driver, the person in the car doubled park in front of you. Is the Light of presents on Biblical topics for area groups and churches. 6 THE EPISCOPAL NEW YORKER Spring 2014 www.episcopalnewyorker.com W

Let Our Light Shine Out Of Darkness

Helen F. Goodkin

When the editor asked me to write something for the issue on evangelism, I thought of one of my favorite Biblical characters, the Samaritan woman in John 4. When she meets Jesus at the well outside her village, the two engage in genuine interfaith dialogue, sparring with each other about the differences between Judaism, Samaritan beliefs, and Jesus’ own views of how God and humanity are meant to interact. This woman is remarkably knowledgeable about the tenets of her faith. Yet she becomes overwhelmed when Jesus tells her that in the future neither the Temple in Jerusalem nor that in Samaria will matter, but that believers will worship “in spirit and in truth.” Suddenly, she realizes that the Messiah she has long awaited has indeed come. She returns to her village and invites everyone to come to see Jesus. They all follow her and recognize Jesus as “Savior of the world.” The first interfaith theologian of the New Testament has become the first Christian evangelist.<br /> <br /> Think about her the next time your parish has “bring a friend to church day.” The only reason the villagers followed her was that they respected and probably loved her. Yet, the church for two thousand years has maligned this woman, saying she was alone at the well at noon because no one liked her; or she had five husbands, and was living in sin, implying she was definitely “Not Our Kind.” But when she told the others about how remarkable this person Jesus was, they held her in such esteem that they went with her to see him, ignoring the heat of the day and forgetting their animosity towards Jews. Thus, God’s work was done by a woman in this small patch of the Holy Land.<br /> <br /> This story makes me think of the words attributed to St. Francis, “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words.” The ministry of St. Francis was built not so much on “telling” people what to believe, but on living life in such a way that others wanted to follow his chosen path, the path that Jesus has laid out. Like St. Francis, something about this woman made the others follow her.<br /> <br /> In reality, anything that we humans have to say about our faith is always imperfect. Our words can never measure up to what Jesus has said. But, like St. Francis, we each should try to preach the Gospel with our lives, living as one committed to the Good News of the Gospel, which is the very root of the word evangelism. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven,” Jesus says. (Matthew 5:16) We need to let our light shine in the world so that people see it as the light of God and are stirred to see, not us, but God working in the world.<br /> <br /> The Matthew quote, of course, puts us right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7), the greatest compendium of guidance on what is important in life and how best to live a life that reflects these values. It is in attempting to live into these values that we reflect God’s presence in our lives. This is the way we witness to our faith.<br /> <br /> So, when you think about evangelism, think about how you live your life. Think about how you interact with your family, your co-workers, the guy at the cleaners, your cab driver, the person in the car doubled park in front of you. Is the Light of God always illumined in your actions the way you intend in your heart? Do those around you love and respect you enough, trust you enough, to want to engage with you in understanding God’s presence in their lives?<br /> <br /> The best and perhaps the only way to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ is to live in such a way, day in and day out, that those with whom we interact, say “I want to be like her.” I want some of that Light for myself. If we don’t show love and respect for one another, why would anyone be interested in learning about the faith undergirds our lives? It is only in living the Good News of God’s love that we are able to spread the Good News.<br /> <br /> Several chapters after his encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus gives his followers “a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) Jesus calls us to love as he loves. This seems simple enough, but as we all know, it is rather difficult. Yet, to be true evangelists, like St. Francis or the Samaritan woman, we must let love for others illumine our lives so profoundly that it becomes a beacon of light for the world. We need to live it and to share it, with each other, with our parishes, with our communities, with the world.<br /> <br /> But, don’t just read my words, read the Bible: John chapters 4 and 13, and Matthew 5-7. One might also read John 15:1-17, the Discourse on the True Vine, a meditation on the interconnectedness of the Christian community in which Jesus repeats the commandment to love one another.<br /> <br /> Goodkin serves on the vestry of the Church of the Epiphany, Manhattan, and frequently presents on Biblical topics for area groups and churches.

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