I’m writing to you on the 25th of January, the day marked for commemorating the conversion of St. Paul. This morning, as I move from my prayer table to my work table, I’m still wondering all sorts of things about conversion and about what a commemoration of St. Paul’s conversion might look like in our lives and in our churches. What do you think?
It’s a good day to spend time with the stories of St. Paul’s conversion. I am drawn again and again to story in Acts 9 of Ananias, sent by God to welcome Saul of Tarsus, a changed man. It’s a story that includes lessons on how deliciously difficult, how full of fear and wonder, the holy work of welcoming can be! And of how changed a man can become through welcoming another changed man.
The idea of conversion is a tricky one for us to get hold of. Very, very few of us would describe ourselves as converts to Christianity. There is a fair amount of spiritual mischief to be found in being among those who understand ourselves to be “already here”. It is one thing to be steadfast in faith and quite something else to be satisfied, stuck, and immune to the yearnings of the Spirit that might include for us such large changes of heart, mind, and spirit that they would well be described as conversions.
I can imagine praying this day to be converted, to be a Christian converted to discipleship. I can imagine the Church being used by the Spirit in the holy work of converting dear folk who inherited some Christianity from our grandparents into disciples. Into disciples so steeped in Scripture, in daily prayer and weekly worship, in life-changing service, that we are a strong brew. Into disciples, who wholly seek and follow Jesus. Into converts whose conversion is highly contagious.
God, may I keep changing toward your will, in small daily decisions and enormous life choices. Grant me the grace to be a convertible at your service. Amen.
Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister