‘Just show me!’ Its often heard when something new is being learned. Many today learn by tutorial – ‘Youtube’ is filled with visual, step by step instructions on how to complete a task – from learning a guitar finger technique, to bowling a googly in cricket, to fitting a washing machine, to pressing flowers – the visual tutorial could not be more popular!
Becoming a Christian is no different – the visual tutorial beats them all! ‘Youtube’ is a little bit more limited however in learning the practice in becoming a Christian, there aren’t too many visual, step by step, videos which do the job… the capability to live life with a gentleness and resilience, not resisting but always giving thanks for every little bit, yielding that nerve centre where we feel consent or the withholding of it, knowing forgiveness and giving it without restraint, seeing the ordinary bits of each day from somebody else’s shoes… becoming a Christian is not easily accessed simply through an internet connection no matter how fibre optic it is!
We have the four gospels in our New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In these we have simple, vivid descriptions of Jesus – his actions and words. In church on a Sunday we all stand as these words are read : as a deliberate mark of respect as these words become the presence of Jesus right in front of us. So we stand. We are ready to learn, we want to be shaped in the way we think, say and do into the very likeness of Jesus. We believe Jesus offers us the very life of God made flesh – ‘he was in the beginning… and through him all things have come into being’ (John 1).
Also we are blessed with this amazing created world and universe. God’s presence has been poured out into every material thing : ‘in him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1). So we only have to look; to look at the skies, at the trees, every plant and flower and creature that walks, squirms and swims! To look again with that wonderful sense ‘I don’t know everything’. As we really look – something simple yet so deliberate- we find wisdom and understanding imparted to us. A wisdom and understanding which comes from heaven – it just happens. Our hearts become bigger, more open, tolerant, generous and grateful. We walk the journey of ‘becoming a Christian’.
And also we are blessed with human examples, people who live with an enjoyment, grace and a love for life. We learn to really appreciate them, and then maybe imitate and copy their example. These people are incredibly important. They might be people we bump into on a daily basis, or every so often, they might be people who have been part of our lives and who for one reason or another are not now as immediate as they once were. They might even be people we have never met… people we have read about in books or whose story has been passed down to us through stories and narratives. ‘Ah! thats how it looks!’ we say to ourselves.
In a similar way we do this with our saints. We have a Patronal Festival (8th September) when we hear again the example of Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the Festival we acclaim her example, we make our appreciation vocal in the praying of prayers and the singing of songs – and we are grateful for these example of what ‘becoming a Christian’ looks like.
Ordinary life is crammed full of tutorials – God gives them ‘new every morning’ this is what ‘becoming a Christian’ looks like. And these are tutorials which never tire or get out of date … accessed over and over again, readily available and with no charge!