Monday, December 15, 2008
Why the first two lines of Anna's Presentation can be so useful...
Are you saying your daily teaching prayer?
Have you memorized the first two lines of Anna's Presentation?
As an example of how even two lines of Anna's Presentation can be imminently helpful, here is a little bit about a recent moment where my husband and I attempted to answer the question, "What is the Baha'i Faith?"
A few days ago, we were checking Solomon in at the hospital (Don't worry Vicki! He's fine!) for a quick outpatient wrist surgery. During the process, the man helping us asked if Solomon had a religious affiliation he wished to declare. Now here is where we, and many others like us, make the decision to either say Baha'i or skip it and timidly avoid having to tell someone about the Faith. As always, it is one of a million little choices we make each day leading us either to an opportunity to teach the Faith or an opportunity to brush it off as a not-so-important event. Here is where all our prayers for teaching are so vitally important because through them we are led to receptive souls and we are given the strength and confidence to open our mouths.
When the man asked Solomon about religious affiliation, he said with just a slight hesitation, "Baha'i." The man looked at him quizzically while Solomon spelled it and I cracked, "I'm sure it's in there."
Lo and behold, he found it! But then, he asked what it was.
Oops... Another opportunity to either be bold or just reel back our words like some bit of information we didn't mean to let out.
Here is where Anna's Presentation became the lifeline we didn't quite grab hold of. Our explanation of the Faith was something jumbled together with snippets on progressive revelation, a smattering of principles such as race unity and the addition of a long-winded description of the Faith's origins in Persia.
If I stop here in my description of what happened, it is possible to see that my husband and I were overlooking such an important and simple way to boldly proclaim the Faith. Instead, we were sticking with disparate bits of fact thrown together without thought and giving our hearer too many different tangents to mull over. Having grown up Baha'i, this has been our method for a long time.
Thankfully, the House of Justice is asking us to change our long-standing methods and learn from what has been tried and found to be successful. Anna's Presentation!
At the last minute, we pulled ourselves together and summarized; The Baha'i Faith is a world religion whose purpose is to unite all races and peoples in one universal Cause and one common Faith. Baha'is are the followers of Baha'u'llah, Who they believe is the Promised One of Ages.
Wow. We could have saved ourselves all those uncomfortable sentences trying to piece together an effective and simple presentation. Lesson learned! At least we saved it at the end!
I would love to hear similar stories. We have so much to learn about how to effectlively apply Anna's Presentation in various situations!
Furthermore, Let's not forget the words of Shoghi Effendi as quoted in the Ridvan 2008 message, ...they must neighter "hesitate" nor "falter," neither "overstress" nor "whittle down" the truth which they champion.