Sunday Readings here.
There is a story told of a new preacher who came to town, who very quickly developed a reputation for being a very inspiring, enthusiastic preacher who shared his faith joyfully each week. Soon his Church was bulging with new worshipers. Many came back after lengthy absences, many who had never worshiped before were received into the Church, and some even came from other churches.
There was something so real about his preaching. It was very lively and upbeat, and it was also very solid, authentic, and never watered down. He shared with his congregation that he had a dream of converting everyone in town, and then in the county, and then in the state and beyond. For a time it all seemed so possible. People even talked about the need for a new larger church building. But then, gradually, after a while, things changed.
People changed. Their practice of the faith changed; their beliefs changed. Many of them stopped going to church; after a while it seemed as though everything had changed; but there was something that had not, and that was the preacher. He did not change at all.
He continuously preached the same content in the same way with the same fervor and enthusiasm even though his congregation had now dwindled to just a handful of people. One of his helpers finally began to ask him, how he could keep it up, how he could still so enthusiastically preach about converting the world when there was hardly anyone left in his church. For quite some time the preacher ignored the question, but one day he did respond. He said that of course he noticed that his congregation had diminished almost to the point of nonexistence, and that some time ago, he began to realize that maybe he wasn’t going to convert the world. He said, “Maybe it is true I will never convert the world, but I am going to continue to preach God’s message with the same fervor and the same zeal as ever. Just because I am not converting the world does not mean that I will ever let the world convert me.”
And he continued preaching in the same way until he died. Some people who used to listen to him preach, out of respect did come to his funeral. They acknowledged that although they eventually went a different way, they never doubted that when they were in his church, that a prophet was among them. So what about us? We are all called to be prophets, to be witnesses to the truths that come to us from God. Ultimately, we cannot control what other people do with the message we present to them with our lives. All we can do is to make sure that we keep the faith. Therein lies the victory.
- Rev. Joseph Maloney, Pastor