What are we supposed to be ready to do? Tell our story! It’s as simple as that. And it’s as complicated as that. Peter says that we are always “ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15 NRSV.) But what does that mean, and who demands such an account these days? This is where we learn to interpret opportunities. We aren’t often in danger of going to jail on account of our faith; we aren’t likely to lose our jobs or get kicked out of school, at least in most parts of the world. So, we look for opportunities to tell our story when questions are asked. When we are asked about our Sunday morning habits, for example, or why giving is so important to us. Questions like these are great opportunities to share faith and to tell our story, if we are prepared.
So, how do we get prepared to tell our story? This might be something for a workshop or a class, but worship can also be a chance to practice our responses. Testimony is a long-standing tradition in the life of the church and might be worth considering reviving in your local context. We need to hear from one another so that we can become more comfortable speaking to others. We may think our story isn’t dramatic enough for a testimony, or that we aren’t always confident in the motivations or reasons for why we do what we do. The drama of daily living is enough, and confidence grows as we practice and examine our stories well enough to tell.
Eastertide is for reflecting on the impact of the Risen Christ on our lives day by day. What does this good news mean for us in how we live, what we choose, and what we value? Psalm 66 could be read as an outline for telling our story. We might begin with what has happened to us, what struggles we have faced, or what journeys we have taken. Then we speak of our encounter with the Risen Christ or the presence of the Spirit, and then we follow with the decisions we made because of this encounter. Then we issue an invitation. “Come and hear,” says the psalmist.
Worship can encourage us to speak and give us examples and opportunities to tell our stories. It can be a celebration of who we are and how Christ is at work in our lives. This is practice for speaking beyond these walls and beyond this moment. Always be ready.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.