I remember standing in front of the nearly 1,000 high school classmates, running for student government in the 10th grade. I got up to the podium, made a largely dramatic and forgettable speech. Just as I was about to finish, my voice squeaked. The entire auditorium erupted in laughter. Even the teachers. I was mortified, I tell ya. I never quite lived it down.
St. Paul was, by his own admission, not a gifted orator. Yet, he stood in the Areopagus of Athens, the seat of the most gifted philosophical argument and oration of the ancient world. What has been recorded is not long, but it is passionate. It's not amazing. He tries to sum up in a few paragraphs what his faith means and why that's changed everything in the world. And he fails. At least, by the standards of Spartacus or Cicero or the great orators who stir us to action, he fails. Many scoffed. Some invited him to come back another time. He left. I don't think he went back.
Two people, Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris, followed him to really learn more of what he was saying - two out of what was likely hundreds of people. But it was enough. Because the transformation that comes from seeing the world as a follower of "the Way" doesn't always need quantity, but it does need depth and commitment. It's a dedicated few who change the world.
I saw that this week, when the nascent Annapolis sanctuary network raised nearly $1,000 to help a family pay rent after a breadwinner was detained by ICE. I'm seeing it in the community organizing effort we're engaged in as people set up one-to-one individual meetings to truly find out more about one another and form a relationship. I'm seeing it as our church responds to pleas, too. It takes a bit of getting out of our comfort zones, perhaps. But God calls us.