I have been recalling the thoughts a keynote speaker at a conference once shared with us. She said some very interesting things, one thing in particular that really caught my attention. She said the church wasn’t about relationships. That wasn’t what defined who we are as Christians. She said the church was about conversations.
Well, for obvious reasons, being the chatty person that I am, I quickly agreed with her. And then she went on to explain her reasoning in more detail and I found myself reflecting on what she said and agreeing even more wholeheartedly.
Conversations help us tell the story of who we are as Christians. We use conversations to share the stories of our faith. We tell of the good news we have heard and experienced. We talk about why our church family is important to us. Sometimes these conversations are formal or one-sided, like in a sermon, or in the prayers of the people. Sometimes they are more informal, like at a coffee hour or the talking that goes on when we have our hands in dish water, or when we are working on a project together.
Conversations allow us to get to know each other; to share who we are, what our thoughts and feeling are, what is important to us. We share our joys and our sorrows. We talk to connect to the people around us. And the depth of those conversations will be different, depending on who we are talking to and what we need to or want to share with the person we are talking to. Sometimes the deepest level of sharing happens with no words at all as we sit together in those moments of great need.
Conversations can make amazing things happen. It was a conversation we had over our ministerial breakfast about The Village Church planning a June food drive to help Community Care stock up for the summer that invited some of the other churches and community partners to join in and raise an impressive 4,253 pounds of food. It was a conversation after our Thorold Community Leaders' Prayer Breakfast had ended last November when someone asked, ‘So, what’s next?’ This has led to a larger and more intentional conversation that includes our churches, service organizations, business leaders and politicians looking at ways to work together under the name OneThorold to make a difference in our community.
Looking to the Bible, we see all kinds of conversations that were of great significance. The snake, Adam and Eve’s conversations in the Garden of Eden, Moses speaking to God in the burning bush, Mary and the angel Gabriel, Jesus calling the disciples, Paul’s talking with the communities he travelled to; all examples of how conversations lead to amazing things. Even some of Jesus’ healing stories, he just spoke the words of healing and it happened.
Last but certainly not least, there are the conversations we have with God. We share who we are with our Creator. We offer up our concerns and the people we worry about. We thank God for all the wonderful things we celebrate. Sometimes the words flow freely. Sometimes the words are very familiar, like the words of prayer we use from our prayer book. And other days, when what is in our heart is too deep for words, God hears them anyway. We have to listen a little harder to hear the response sometimes and there are days when that conversation feels very one-sided. We listen to that little voice inside of ourselves that helps direct us, the Spirit that lives in our hearts.
So I believe we need to really think about the kinds of conversations we have, and not to underestimate the power they hold. A small simple spark between two people can light a fire that burns very brightly and change the world around us. A few words can make the world of difference to a person in need. And words spoken in anger or haste, while forgiven, are sometimes never forgotten. So pay attention to your conversations. And always be open to where those conversations may lead you.
I hope this wonderful summer weather, with all the lovely sunshine, has put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.