The most famous quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi says: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” What I think he means by this is that our lives should be a sermon – the way we act, interact, give, share, decide, and so on. Words are but one part of the sermon we are called to live out as Christians.
This last Friday, Rev. Claire Wright, Phil Fraser (our pianist) and I ventured to Canberra, where we performed a concert in aid of the Canberra City Uniting Church’s Early Morning Centre (an onsite missional entity that offers food, clothing, contacts and care to the homeless in Canberra’s CBD). We reworked the performance we did at Roseville Uniting Church last year, which was basically a concert that told our stories of life and faith through music. This coming Friday, we’ll be doing the concert again in Bathurst, in aid of Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy work.
Music is a gift that God has blessed me with, and I thank God for the ways I can use my gifts in music for the Gospel – as a singer, pianist, arranger, composer and conductor. At this concert I was part of, I believed that I “sowed seeds” of curiosity about Jesus in the music we performed. As an example, I shared the story of my house burning down in the 2003 Canberra bushfires, and how I came out of that experience first being angry at God, and then hearing God, and then giving my life to God. I then sang the beautiful song His Eye Is On The Sparrow, as the musical interpretation of those events of my life. Claire shared her story of being called to ordained ministry, and then together we sang the song I See The Light from the Disney movie Tangled. Both these songs, and the others we performed, were hopefully both entertaining and gave food for thought.
Part of my role here at West Epping is to preach using words. But I have found that the most effective method of preaching beyond the gathered community, or perhaps evangelising to those beyond the gathered community, is through music. Music speaks across language, culture, ethnicity, faith, geography, education and socioeconomic status.
My challenge to you all, sisters and brothers, is to think about what God has gifted you with or in, and how those gifts might be used to share the Gospel. If you’re a good cook, how might you preach using food? If you’re a good sportsperson, how might you preach on the field? If you’re a good artist, how might your art be used for God? If you’re a good gardener, how might your gardening be used for God?
We believe in the priesthood of all believers. In order to take that seriously, we must all find ways to be priestly to those around us. So, how might you preach the Gospel yourself?