I’m still mulling over a treadmill “conference” I had with a dear friend this morning at the gym.
This particular person is very religious, but not Christian. My friend shared the recent experience of being invited to a “dedication” (Baptism type ceremony) for a friend’s newborn child. The ceremony occurred within the context of the regular Sunday church service at a large, local, non-denominational Christian church in my hometown. Many friends of the baby were invited to attend — several of them non-Christian and of another faith background.
My friend emotionally told me about how offended some of the guests felt at the tone of the ceremony. Apparently large screens in the church were used to post bible verses that this person felt were very offensive to their own faith background. Additionally the pastor preached about the duty of every Christian to evangelize using whatever means necessary. In the midst of the pastor’s encouragement to “spread the good news”, my friend noted that never once was service to others mentioned. It was all about, “share the bible” or “pray over them” or “stay away from non-Christians who might lead you astray“.
The friend confided in me that their experience with our Church was different — that Catholics are frequently seen in the community doing acts of service, feeding the hungry and caring for the homeless. My friend’s perception — whether it is accurate or not — is that Catholics “walk the talk“.
I know I spend quite a lot of time “talking God” — just ask my sons.
But do my actions out in the “real world” reflect the love I feel for Him and for my faith? Would people look at me and think, “she’s all talk and no action“? Would they think that of my parish, or my family?
If someone of my friend’s religion dropped in as an invited guest on any given Sunday at my parish, would they feel welcomed, cherished, and supported or offended and maligned? Good question.
I’ll likely be listening with my friend’s perspective fresh in my mind next Sunday. I hope it also impacts my other six days of my week just as much.
A question for you: Is your Church evangelistic in action as well as in message? How would non-Catholic friends “feel” if they visited your parish?