Firstly, he only occasionally alluded to his extraordinary nature.
Secondly, his mission depended upon the call of individuals, the building of a team, the development of a community, the transformation of a society.
We began our reflection upon the notion of being called with the story of Nathanael last week. Today we continue with the calling of other disciples, Andrew and Peter. Being called to share Jesus mission is fundamental to Christianity.
The early disciples had a big task before them. They were predominantly involved in telling people the story of Jesus. It required enormous devotion. It meant they did leave home, families, work and sometimes the loss of life. Mission has continued on down through the centuries, not always in the same form.
THE DIOCESAN MISSION
The diocese has been encouraging us to share in this great tradition of mission, under the heading, ‘Preaching the whole word of God.’ A saying that emphasized the importance of mission to the Christian disciple went like this, ‘Mission is to the gospel as Warmth is to fire.’ They are fundamentally one.
THE CHALLENGE OF CONTEMPORARY MISSION
Mission in the church has faced some major challenges in our lifetime. I speak of this challenge because of one major change to society.Up until approximately the 15th century all societies lived according to some system of belief. Certainly not all the same, but all had some belief in spirit and spoke of their God in some way.With such a belief they shaped their life accordingly.
Since the fifteenth century a change slowly took place. Ever so gradually a transition toward the Secular society we know of today took place. Reason and science, supported by wealth has changed what people live for and the way they speak of reality. These gifts of god are sadly turned against god. People have decided he is little more than a mythic notion.
So what do we make of mission?
1. Mission has traditionally been built upon the notion that we have a trusting faithful relationship with God. The core of this relationship of love is expressed and explored in an ever-deepening life of prayer and worship. For me mission is grounded in a life of prayer and worship.
2. The second pillar of mission is spoken of in Acts chapter two verse 42. It says the early church gathered for the breaking of bread and fellowship. We are the body of Christ which means we are his community. The life he calls us to is grounded in the Christ-like bond we share with each other. Mission is to bear witness to Jesus by the life we live in fellowship with one another.
3. The third pillar of mission…I met with the other local ecumenical clergy for a breakfast meeting last Tuesday. We talked of the coming year and asked how we would continue our local mission. This led to a third foundational approach to the gospel mission. God had a particular concern for the lost and most wounded. Jesus constantly cared for the suffering, the sick and most marginalized. Jesus was adamant that we should visit the sick and those in prison. The churches welfare mission has been foundational to its gospel
4. The fourth major pillar of mission has been to speak with prophetic intent. The world needs guidance for it has no common foundation upon which to rest its values. Ideally the words of prophecy reflect the mind of God. How we so value the proclamation of those whose insight and wisdom rise above the clamoring voices of the masses.
5. The fifth and final pillar of mission is to tell the story of Jesus and his gospel. Its here that I believe we have one of the greatest challenges facing the church. Knowledge has so grown far beyond anything the world has ever known, so much so that we speak of the information age. Big questions face our humanity; the environment, nuclear weaponry, inter-racial, multi-cultural and multi faith societies, outer space exploration, are a few issues that demand new answers for humanity.
One fascinating question is what constitutes being human. How many artificial parts can we have before we are no longer human. Technology speaks of Artificial intelligence, which leads to robots etc. This is our new world in which the majority of society says religious belief and faith have no place.
I return to our diocesan call to mission, ‘Preach the whole word of God’. I can do little more than ask the question, what does it mean in this day and age? I believe our past efforts to explain the gospel and now inadequate.We must search for a new understanding of mission.
And the biggest question comes right before us. What does it mean for ourselves at Holy Trinity?