|Downtown Tampa this morning|
In the end it’s not fine arguments, or intellectual acumen, or force of personality that’s going to get the message across. In the end it’s going to be people living their story, faithfully, without pretence, and letting the light and the life of authenticity speak for them. Life, authentic life, speaks for itself.
I was writing about the Gospel message, and talking about what really works in terms of getting the truth about God's love across to people who might not know other than their exposure to the lives we - as supposed Jesus-followers - lead.
That was yesterday afternoon, and I parked the quote here ready for this morning's blog. But then I had to get moving early today and spend a few hours at a meeting the other side of down town Tampa. Hence the photo of downtown Tampa, taken on my way through.
Preparation for Ministry: But the idea stayed with me. This was my second meeting with the Tampa Bay Presbytery CPM (Committee on Preparation for Ministry). Our job is to act as liaison between the Presbytery (the association of Presbyterian Churches in this area) and those individuals who feel called to ordained gospel ministry, and who are negotiating their way through the process.
I'm still learning the ropes, but it's a job I'm interested in because I feel that the future of this church requires leaders who are well prepared, equipped, supported, encouraged, accountable, counseled, and generally watched over from the time they hear God's invitation to preach to the time they accept their first call and are ready for ordination.
One of our tasks today was to meet with a seminary student and decide if she is ready to move from the status of "inquirer" to that of "candidate". She attends classes at Columbia Seminary in the Atlanta area and so we met with her via SKYPE video-conference technology.
I've got to tell you, this woman has passion, purpose, excellent theology and a real vision for the future of the church.
What the seminary student had, and what she desires to share both with the church and the community where she will ultimately serve, is "authentic life that speaks for itself."
So - and this doesn't surprise me one bit - I came full circle, ending up exactly where my thoughts had started out to begin with.
"You are doing a great job of communicating your love for the Gospel," I told her. "It reminds me of the scripture I meditated on this morning from Galatians: 'The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love' (Galatians 5:6)."
Well, if that's not Gospel authentic, then I don't know what is - DEREK