Recently I’ve been writing a lot of talks and giving a few too, some for retreats, some for a Lent series we’re doing at my parish. I had sort of taken a break from writing talks for awhile and so this has been a little challenging for me as of late.
I was talking with one of my friends and coworkers today about what to write for one of the retreats I’m planning and she said something that made me think. I was asking for advice on what to include from my own story in the talk, about how specific to get. I’ve been trying to write this talk for the last three days and kept getting stuck because I didn’t want to share too much. But then my friend called me out. She said I’m trying to not get personal. I was trying to remove myself from the talk.
It’s much easier to talk to a group of people about a topic, to teach them about the Church and how great God is and how much He loves them. And that is extremely important work, but part of being a follower of Christ is that there is a personal connection there. And how better for someone to be able to know what that looks like or to understand why they would want to start a relationship with Christ than to hear an example of what that looks like?
It’s easy to tell people that they need to pray and they need to listen to what the Lord is telling them. What takes a little more effort is being willing to get personal, to share how the Lord has spoken to me and how I responded, or didn’t. We need to stop hiding from vulnerability. For far too long we as a Church have focused just on the head knowledge. I’m not saying that it isn’t important to know Church teaching or to learn about the Eucharist or what happens at Mass. I’m not saying that all the curriculum we focus on in faith formation is a waste of time, but there is something, someone that makes all of it relevant.
Our faith is personal, it’s about a person, an encounter with Jesus Christ. Without Him, it doesn’t make sense. Without Him, we’re just a bunch of people following some rules. If it wasn’t about Jesus, our faith wouldn’t be worth giving our lives to. So let’s be willing to share our personal encounter with Christ with each other. Take the time to share your story with your friends, with your kids, with your spouse, with that random person you meet around town who is looking for something more. The more we talk about the personal side of our faith, the more people will realize that Jesus saves lives. Let’s get real so that others can truly encounter the one who makes this whole Church worth it.