Sixth Sunday of Easter

LOST IN TRANSLATION

By Tina Sibbald

“Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you.”

Have you ever been online and, on viewing comments or content in a language you don’t know, use a program such as Google® translate to figure out what you are reading? Somehow, the translation seems awkward, and you know grammar and syntax are all messed up. But at least you get the gist of what is going on.

It kind of feels just like that reading 1 Peter. “Make your defense” sounds, well, so defensive. It has this back-against-the-wall connotation like we have to come out swinging in defense of Jesus. Is there anything less attractive than a Christian who is angry for the wrong reasons?

The reality is that if we all understood Greek it would all make so much more sense. “Make your defense” is the best translation from the Greek apologia, which has nothing to do with being apologetic or sorry. It means to give a reason for our faith.

Of course, in an academically oriented parish, I hardly need to explain the study of apologetics to our students, but for the rest of us, there is a lesson here.

It really matters HOW we make the case for Christ, and if we can’t find ways to do it by example, well, it just seems futile. When we are vengeful, spiteful, or judgmental towards those who just don’t understand what Christ did for us, how could we hope to set an example? We are all imperfect, so how can our righteous indignation win people to Christ? It is only kindness, compassion and empathy, that can accomplish this.

Coming from a church background which condoned shaming and humiliating and rallying in angry protest against anyone whose life did not fit into a narrow view of what a Christian should be, I have since spent significant time considering how I can show the love of Christ in a broad and inclusive way. It really matters HOW we make the case for Christ. While none of us is perfect, we are called to be examples to the best of our imperfect abilities.

I, for one, will miss the way in which Fr. Chris has exemplified the quiet and respectful manner in which we can win people for Christ. Sometimes it is all about what you don’t say, but rather what you do. I will always cherish his example.

How might your quiet actions win someone for Christ this week?

Sunday’s Readings:

Acts 8.5-8, 14-17

1 Peter 3.15-18

John 14.15-21