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Who do you say that you are?

"Identity." Some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Mark Colliton. Sourced from FlickrAfter the excitement of receiving an expected parcel in my mailbox this week, I was disappointed to discover part of the shipment damaged. Once I contacted the company they immediately let me know they were sending a replacement, and apologised for the situation, as they pride themselves on being “convenient” to their customer base.

How odd, I thought, for a company to define its goal in one word using “convenient.” While the service they provide is convenient, I would have thought a better adjective goal might be address quality or consistency or availability. I wondered if that customer service rep was using a company line, or if his words were merely his own, based on his understanding.

It caused me to consider how we, the church, define and articulate ourselves and our goal. What is it that we want to be most known for, in a way that can be understood by the broader society?
Would “faithful” capture the essence of who we are? Loving? Missional? Worshipful? Children of God? Pray-ers? Servant leaders?

While choosing a description/goal may be difficult enough for the folks involved in the church, the challenge extends further – would that word or phrase mean the same thing to a passer-by as it would to a regular attendee? Would a non-Christian understand what we meant by it? Would our actions outside the building, corporately and individually, continue to work towards that goal? How might an outsider, if asked, choose to describe the church?

I suspect the answers would vary greatly, based on varying experiences of church. Even when Jesus asked his disciples “who do you say that I am” after asking them who others said he was, each time produced a different answer (John the Baptist, Elijah, a prophet, the Messiah).

I suspect then our challenge is to consider ourselves – as individuals, as families, as faith communities – and to think how we might describe ourselves, how we might describe who we want to be, how we would want others to describe us. And, of course, to then live our lives in such an authentic and faith-full way that those three answers would align.


About Laura Marie Piotrowicz

I’m a high-energy priest, now serving in the Diocese of Niagara, catching glimpses of the kingdom in daily life. I consider church to be a verb, and I’m passionate about prayer, eco-theology, and social justice. I love travel, reading, canoeing, camping, gardening and cooking, playing with my dogs, and drinking good coffee.

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11 Responses to Who do you say that you are?

  1. The more I see mainstream protestant religion I begine thinking that the only differencis you can meet agnostics 7 days a week and protestants meet on Sunday and promise the wont act that way again until next Sunday.

    • The question posed by Jesus to His disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” required introspective mindfulness on their part, as it equally does on our part. All religious disciplines and philosophies are universally intrigued by the question: “Who am I”? Upon reflection, we may notice that the answer is provided by the question: If the “who” is the subject of the question, then the “I” is the object. But immediately this introspective investigation leads us to now in solipsistic manner regard or reverse subject as “object” and object as “subject.” We immediately recognize then that the question is self-referential; and at the same time appeals to a recognition that “subject” and “object” or “self” and “other” are intricately connected and requires an intimacy of the “one” as well of the “other” — at the same time recognizing any boundaries between them to be an illusion. So then, how are we to answer Jesus’ parabolic question? He does provide an answer; and invites us to reflect on it when He says: “I and my father are ONE!” Jesus is inviting us to consider and accept that we are our brothers’ keepers.

      • Interesting perspective Karl, I’m not sure I took that from Jesus’ question and later comment. For me, the statement “I and the Father are one” is a reference to the nature of the Trinity, not an inverse allusion to the Cain/Abel conflictual relationship.

  2. I’m the one who beleive that Jesus is the son of God, the Messiah

  3. Our language in the church has to be understood by all, particularly those who are not cradle Anglicans. One word that is used only in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches is Eucharist and as I am a advance aged cradle Anglican, when I was a in my teens and early 20s, we used the word is Communion, which is also used by United and Presbyterian Churches. Instead of Celebration of the Eucharist in the BAS, why not Celebration of the Last Supper. Let us look at other parts of the liturgical language to make our visitors welcome and comfortable with our worship.

  4. Good statement Francis.

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