A Word From Our Bishop

On Palm Sunday (April 10), the Bishop visited St. John's, Reston. Members of Christ Church, Melita joined the congregation for the day. In this photo, the Bishop is showing members of Christ Church, Melita how to fold palm crosses (something the Rector admits he is not very good at!)

For the last number of years, the word “mission” and “missional” have been the stock and trade of the church in all its discussions. In our quest to wake up the necessity of serving the people around us as a function of being church, we have been studying and working and praying through what “missional” means. The folks who have been working so hard through their studies toward the Licentiate in Theology diploma (L.Th.) have heard time and again that we have a purpose in the world and that the love of Christ compels us outward to serve him in whatever form he takes: the poor, the hungry, the lost and every one of our neighbours. 

So in fact, the Church doesn’t have a mission, but rather that the Mission of God has a Church. If you think about that for any length of time, you will perhaps want me to take a run at deepening what I have written. As a Church, Anglicans are “Directed by Mission” We use the term Mission quite freely. What it means is complicated, but is summed up this way: God is active. God is moving and calling us to move. Through Jesus Christ, God has made a new heaven, a new earth and a new humanity and that we are part of the new thing God is doing in the world. The Church is the mechanism through which God is doing the new thing. As members of the Church then, we are part of “the new thing” God is doing in Christ. So for faithful Christians, aware of God’s action in Jesus and focused on the “new thing” God has done, the question that follows now is a simple but deep one: What is God up to now? 

I will give a shorter answer. The mission of God is marked always by a consistent theme. In Christ, we do impossible things with improbable people. The story of our Church, the story of every believer when it is told through the lens of God’s mission is a story of things which seemed impossible – and yet were accomplished; by people who were the improbable choice, and yet were called by God to “do 

it anyway!” Consider the place in which our church is planted. Contemplate the unlikely group who join with you in worship and then understand the astonishing idea that God is acting in this world: using this improbable people to do impossible things. 

This shouldn’t surprise us. Scripture is filled with the stories of improbable choices. God has a habit of choosing “the wrong kind of person” for important jobs. They only seem “the wrong kind of person” to us, but God sees things differently and accomplishes impossible things through “the wrong kind of person”. Perhaps it only seems an improbable choice because God chooses the vulnerable, the weak and the broken to accomplish his will. Like St. Paul reminds us, God uses us in our weakness, not our strength and so by using what appear to be foolish candidates for his work in the world, God shows the world how foolish it is. 

This will not mean that we will always get it right. It does not mean we will always understand. Sin still separates us one from another. Pride and envy and jealousy and hard-heartedness still have a foot-hold in all of us. To be directed by mission is to admit that fellow Anglicans, and fellow Christians are all part of the picture. Even how we understand and treat fellow human beings who do not believe in Jesus testify to the truth of God’s mission. Unfailingly we believe Jesus is the way that God is doing “a new thing” and all our relationships must reflect that truth. 

But this is good news for us in another way. God is acting in the Diocese of Brandon and we as Anglicans have accepted the mission which God has given us. We may think ourselves “the wrong sort of people” for God to depend on for success, but that is rather the point! If we depend on ourselves we will naturally fail, but if in our weakness we let God work through us, there is a world of impossible things that can be accomplished through us. The deaf will hear, the lame will walk, the dead will be raised and the poor will have the good news preached to them – not because of who we are, but because of who He is! The Spirit of the Lord is upon us, and he has anointed us to go and preach that good news. 

This is the natural “attitude adjustment” that comes with being Directed by Mission. An understanding that God is active, and using us, improbable candidates though we are, to accomplish the impossible things God wants done as part of the “new thing” that Jesus brings us. In the end, it is not us, but God who accomplishes in us more than we can ask or imagine. We dared not imagine it because we thought it impossible, and we didn’t ask because we were sure we weren’t worthy. The thing is, God figured that it made us perfect for the job. 


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