Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vol 2:23 Being in Mission: Living Centered in Jesus Christ

This past week I was up in Canada officiating my nephew’s wedding to his lovely bride. As we were making last minute preparations for the wedding, a primary focus was centering all that we were planning to do in the person of Jesus Christ. My nephew and his bride were choosing to exchange their vows in a context of worship and chose to make their vows in the presence of Jesus Christ. In fact, the text for the basis of the wedding meditation was Luke 9: 23-26 which focuses upon denying self, taking up the cross daily and following after Jesus – in giving themselves 100% one to the other, they realize that they must give themselves completely to Christ.

This was a good reminder for me about what being in mission entails – it means being centered in Jesus Christ in all that we are and do. Jesus cannot be an afterthought or a side thought if we seek to be missional, rather Jesus is at the center of who we are and what we do as we seek to participate with God in God’s redemptive mission of making humanity and all creation new.

Over the next few weeks I want to explore further how we live missionally by being centered in Jesus. I cannot help but think that the command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27) speaks to how we are to be missional centered in Jesus Christ.

To be missional is to have Christ Jesus as the center of our purpose, focus, and direction (heart), to have Jesus as the center for our spirituality and meaning making in our lives (soul), to have Jesus as the center for all our living and in all what we do (strength), and to have Jesus as the center for our thinking and speaking (mind).

I end this week by praying the prayer of St. Patrick, in which he shares this centeredness in Jesus Christ. St. Patrick’s Prayer begins with:

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of judgment;
I bind unto myself today.

And then the last two stanzas of the prayer express a deep centeredness in Jesus Christ:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

May we be continually reminded that in Jesus Christ alone can we participate with God in God’s mission.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vol 2:22 Being in Mission: Engaging in Mission in Relationship with God

This week I am down at Northern Seminary teaching a course on Leadership in Missional Perspective. Today we were discussing as a class about how easy it is to turn mission into a task that we go about doing as a church in seeking to serve God or serve others. But being missional is not about accomplishing a task as it is about participating with God who is in relationship with us. There can be nothing more personal that participating with God in God’s mission.

In exploring God’s nature as missional, God is not the kind of God that sits on a throne somewhere telling us what to do in mission. The opposite is in fact the case. God is actively engaged in the world – God is actively engaging the lives of people – God invites us as the community of the new humanity (code word for the church) to participate with what God is up to in the world. If mission was God merely telling us what to do, then mission would indeed be a task – which we might carry out personally or impersonally.

But God does just not tell us what to do – God invites us to participate with what God is up to in the world. In inviting us, God invites us to come alongside the Spirit, who is actively engaged in the world. This makes mission a very personal act, a very relational act – not only with those with whom we are engaging, but also because we are in relation with God who is leading us in mission.

Jesus in John’s Gospel makes very clear that the way he engaged in mission was through hearing and seeing what God the Father was about in the world – to hear and see requires us to be in proximity to God and God in proximity to us.

It’s been a long day teaching and so I am not sure if I am communicating clearly – but what I am trying to express is that mission is a process of serving in partnership with God, God who comes alongside us, who is with us, who is in relationship with us. We do not do mission alone carrying out a command – rather in relationship with God we participate with God in making all things new.

Mission then is about God being personal to us – and therefore, in mission, we share God being personal with others. May we be set free from seeing mission as a task and be engaged in sharing the love of God with those to whom God sends us in very personal ways.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vol 2:21 Being a Missional People - Living in Openness to God

This past Sunday was the last Sunday of the Easter Season, which brought to conclusion the series the congregation I am serving has been focusing upon throughout the Easter season – Being a Community of the Resurrection. The focus of this series, taken from 1 Peter, was discovering the characteristics of being a community of the Resurrection in today’s world. We focused on being a community born into a living hope; a community that lives as aliens in society demonstrating a different reality of being human; a community who are living stones demonstrating the new human community that God is creating; a community that shares in the sufferings of Christ; a community that serves in the way of Christ in the world – doing and saying what we hear God saying and doing; and this past Sunday our focus was upon being a community that humbles itself before God and casts its anxiety on God because “it matters to God about us.” In response to this utter dependence upon God for living, God lifts us up to our rightful place, using the same language of Christ being exalted – our rightful place is to be the new humanity that God is creating, a community of people who live in communion with God in all that we are and do.

Being such a community is what it means to be missional. We are not a community that merely has a place for God, rather we are a community that is deeply rooted in communion with God, deeply rooted in God’s Story and Vision, deeply rooted in our attachment to Jesus Christ, deeply rooted in being led by the Spirit.

Missional is about being the people of God on purpose and with purpose. We live seeking, desiring, longing to participate with God in what God is up to in our world. What God is up to is not a side-interest of ours as a community centered in Jesus Christ, it is the primary motivation for our living and for our actions – we want to notice what God notices, we want to move where the Spirit of God is moving, we want to participate in the redemption and making whole of the world as God is, in short – we see every aspect of our lives being for the purpose of participating in God’s purposes.

For me that changes my whole outlook on what my life is about, what my life in my community is about.

This morning I was talking with someone who was struggling with doubts about God – doubts are good and I believe lead us to give up on our trying to figure God out on our own. Doubts bring us to a place where we have nothing to offer God leaving us open to experience God as God chooses to reveal himself to us. May we, as a people who seek to be missional, not put all kinds of things in the way of God becoming full in our lives, but may we be open to receive whatever God desires to pour out into our hearts, our minds, our lives by yielding our lives in a posture of openness to the Spirit of God.

I believe then we will see what God sees in very new ways.