We invite you to share your Elevator Pitch, a brief, concise accounting of the HOPE that is in you. Email your Elevator Pitch to Fr Jeff at email@example.com. With permission, we will share the Elevator Pitches of the Congregation anonymously here on this webpage.
There have been many responses. Here are a few:
- Look Forward to Peace
- Messy and Resolute
- Why I’m Episcopalian
- Ask and Receive
- Daily Conversations
- Who ya gonna serve?
- The Four Accidents
- 5th Floor, Please
- Trust in Jesus
Look Forward to Peace
Why do I belong to a church, and what do I hope for in eternity?
The church provides guidance, though the teachings of Jesus, on how I might become the best person I can be. Just being spiritual is not enough because, as humans, we are too easily distracted by worldly things. As long as I am on this earth, I will keep on working toward becoming more Christian. In the life after death, I look forward to finally knowing the peace and tranquility of being Christian.
Messy and Resolute
Messy… That’s my best one word description of my faith journey
Resolute… That’s my best one word description of my hope in Christ
My faith journey is messy because God blessed me with a gift of constantly challenging, inquiring, questioning, growing and yes occasionally backsliding. (I do so wonder if He regrets that gift to me)
With resolute hope in Christ… every week when our deacon sends us into the world to love and serve and we say “thanks be to God, Alleluia!” I don’t take that as just the cue to beat everyone to the Great Hall for pretzels but rather as literal instruction and responsibility to fulfill my baptismal covenant. (But I have been known to beat folks to the food after service too)
With resolute hope in Christ… I start each day asking God to show me how I can serve others and equip me to do so. Invariably the day will not go by without being a little messy – my asking “why God,” or trying to take control, or feeling as though I fell short.
But every night I whisper Thank you God, forgive me when I didn’t listen or act, and we’ll keep working on me again tomorrow.
Each day, each moment is another opportunity – faith is a 24/7, year round sport.
God doesn’t give up even when things seem really hard, so I won’t either!
(Oh and BTW the journey is filled with abundant blessings!)
Why I’m Episcopalian
I want to preface this by pointing out that the following pitch presupposes the other person in this conversation is “spiritual but not religious” or in some other way agnostic but not hostile to the idea of God. I actually have another one ready for those who are grieving and questioning the existence of God but that is for another time (too bad because I think it is actually a stronger case).
I’m Episcopalian and here is why. I was raised in a denomination that took the Bible very literally and it drove me away from religion for decades. I just couldn’t buy the idea of a 6000 year old planet and there are a number of things in the Bible that I just couldn’t take at face value. Besides the idea of a 7 literal day creation, the worst ones for me were the Tower of Babel, the Flood, Jonah and the Whale and the entire story of Job. My previous denomination required a literalist view of all of those and I knew that was just impossible.
When I met my wife, I started going to an Episcopal church and actually started listening to the readings. They kind of amazed me. So much of it really spoke to me and I listened to them while thinking about the time and the part of the world in which they were written. It is really advanced philosophy even by today’s standards. The concepts of loving your neighbor, forgiveness and redemption are not exactly popular in that part of the world right now, let alone 2000-2500 years ago.
I then had a long conversation with the priest and was shocked to discover that the Episcopal Church doesn’t require a literalist view of the Bible. The Bible is simply a guide to a relationship between God and man and for relationships between man and his fellow man. That’s it. It is not a history or science book.
Once I caught on to this, the Bible actually became relevant. I let go of the idea of figuring out what actually did or did not happen in history and just tried to find the truth of each story. There’s plenty of truth to be learned without worrying about how a person survives inside a big fish.
Beside the Bible, the thing I like about the Episcopal Church is the service itself. There is a certain comfort from doing things the same way they have for centuries. It just makes me happy. I feel a connection to something much bigger than I am. Would you like to try it?
Ask and Receive
Having left the church back in the 1980s over a foolish (on my part) disagreement with clergy, I never felt the urge to return. My interactions with God rarely involved my asking for something. When something good occurred, however, I was always certain to offer thanks for my good fortune which I always ascribed to God’s looking out for me. This interaction worked rather well until three years ago when my life took an unexpected downturn of very drastic proportions. This situation weighed very heavily on me until I finally recognized the need for Divine intervention. I finally asked for God’s intercession on my behalf. I didn’t ask for any immediate relief, not a hole in one, just a sign that things would be improving in the future. Within fewer than ten minutes I recognized the sign that had been sent to me and just that quickly, things turned around. And my situation remains good and I have no more fears. I returned to the Episcopal Church and have never turned away again. I’m here to stay and to worship and to spread the word. This is my Epiphany.
I engage God in constant daily conversations. When I need someone to share something important, an unpleasant occurrence or assistance with some daily mundane need, I turn to God, who always has time to listen and HELP. My “use” of God as an ongoing source of assistance has strengthen our relationship whether finding my lost keys, resolving a simple task, or gaining needed insight cleans my life of troublesome snags. Our talks give me numerous opportunities to thank Him for being a ongoing generous “workmate” with my life each day.
Who ya gonna serve?
Bob Dylan sang, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” Me? I’ve tried going my own way and it didn’t work out too good for me. I trusted in myself. I put faith in hard work. I tried to do good and just hide it and keep secrets when I didn’t. But all this just led to regrets, insecurities and an emptiness inside. I tried self medicating with alcohol and drug abuse which was a dead end road. At the end of the day, I wondered if this was all there is to life.
But God had other plans for me. A series of events led me to understand that I’m not the one in control. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t see the “big picture.” The world doesn’t revolve around me. It’s not “life according to Me.” So what did I do about it?
I turned to the One who is the Creator, the One who wrote the book, the One who painted “the big picture.” I turned to the Lord God Almighty. I had to learn to turn over control of my life. It’s an ongoing process. Does that mean that I’m out of control? Hardly. It just means that I let God do His part and I do mine. It means that I trust in God and not myself. I put my faith in Christ and not hard work. I do the best I can but know that I will fall short and that’s okay.
Today, I put my hope in Christ. That means that no matter what happens to me, I’ll be okay. Yes, that means that I believe in life ever after which answers the question, is this all there is to life. But it also means that I live in God’s kingdom now. Hard times will come and I expect that but when I put Christ first in my life and seek Him, nothing man can throw at me can take that away. That brings peace in my soul. Even though I fall short, I am forgiven because of what our Savior has done for us. That shows God’s love for us. That erases the shame and no need for secrets. I don’t have to be insecure because if I’m okay with my relationship with God, I don’t have to worry about what man thinks of me. I can trust God because He has already given His best for me, His Son, Jesus Christ.
Do I know everything about God? No way. God is way beyond my understanding. But I can know Him by reading the Bible, talking to others who have a relationship with God and belonging to a loving church, praying to God, listening for Him and seeing how He is working in my life and others around me. When I see a beautiful sunrise, the fall colors of the mountains or a native brook trout, I think how much more beautiful is the One who created these things. When I see the power of floods, tornados, earthquakes, volcanos, how much more powerful is the Creator. God has revealed in His word that in due time He will make things right. That gives me hope that good will prevail and evil will be put in its place. Today, I don’t have to self medicate because I choose to serve God!
The Four Accidents
Four times in my 70 years, I’ve had an accident where the outcome could have been/should have been death.
The four accidents:
1) A serious head injury at age 10 while diving in Lake Huron; the wound required more than 200 stitches.
2) Falling out of a 1940 Ford “woodie” station wagon while roughhousing as a 16 year old and not being run over by the car behind us, which managed to stop in time.
3) Being hit broadside at my VW driver door by a drunk who was speeding through a stop sign at more than 60 mph in a 30 mph zone. My VW went airborne into a telephone pole, which was snapped in half. I suffered only minor bruises. The VW was trashed.
4) A serious fall that broke ribs, which then pierced my liver, spleen and kidney – causing me to bleed internally for five days before being hospitalized; spent two weeks in ICU.
For years I wondered why I survived those encounters. After the last incident, I came up with a possible answer: God wasn’t ready to call me home; He had work for me to do here on Earth. (And I am still trying to figure out just what that work entails!)
5th floor please. Thanks.
I see you are a man of the cloth…as they say in PA.
If I try to live out my Christian life, why do I have continuing doubts about the way other near and dear friends and relatives choose to live their outwardly good lives? I am not a better person but they do not hesitate to express their true feelings that a belief in God and membership in an organized church is not relevant to the good and moral life that they have chosen.
Will they have life everlasting even absent a death bed conversion? Praying does not seem to provide any answers. They don’t worship false gods – they just don’t Worship!
Thanks for your time. This is my floor – maybe we will meet again in the elevator.
Trust in Jesus
When I was a child, I put my faith in my parents to make the right decisions for me. They were the ones I could trust to know better what I should do. I questioned how they knew what they knew. “Experience that comes from living longer” was the answer.
As I grew up I began making decisions for myself. I headed into every decision with the knowledge that I knew what was best. I can tell you, many of the outcomes were not to my liking! “Trust in your instincts,” was my motto.
Of course, as an adult the problems were bigger and it became harder to know which road to take. I chose the wrong path. I knew there had to be a better way. There was! Jesus Christ!
Coming to Christ has helped me in many ways. I now trust in Him when I need to choose a path. I know that allowing myself to be still and quiet allows me to hear what He is telling me.
Now you may say that you are choosing your path on your own, and that when given two choices, you make the right one. I am here to tell you that free will allows us to make our own choices, but they are made from the heart, not the head, and usually are the wrong ones!
What I hope for as a Christian is that when I am in crisis, I need to give up the control, and trust that Jesus will send me the right message. Without His guidance, I am sure to make the wrong choice.
What I learned through Christ is that I always have the strength to sit quietly and listen, and then follow, even when I disagree. I know Christ will walk with me, guide me and always take me where I am supposed to be.
Being a Christian teaches me to have hope and faith, even when I feel there is none, and to trust in Jesus Christ.