The Ministry of Sending
"As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (Jesus to his disciples in the Gospel according to John)
This summer our church will be engaging in the ancient ministry of sending people out into the world to share the transforming power of God's love. On June 2 we send out fourteen pilgrims with our prayers for a fruitful pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In July we will send seven teen-age members of our congregation for the work of rebuilding a community in need in Dungannon, southern Virginia. And then in August we send six brave missioners to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to work closely with the 750 school children and their teachers at our sister Anglican school, St. Augustine's.
At the end of every Sunday service, the priest or deacon usually says some form of "Go forth, go already!" The heart of the Christian faith and the heart of our individual vocations as disciples of Jesus Christ is that we are a people sent forth to share the joy, embrace, healing, forgiveness, and empowerment that we have received. This is what mission means: not converting the heathen but an open-handed offer of love, full of vulnerability, for the building up of others.
This summer I will be reading two books by a classmate of mine from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, Dwight Zscheile: People of the Way: Renewing Episcopal Identity, and Cultivating Sent Communities: Missional Spiritual Formation. In them I will be looking for clues about how churches like Holy Cross can move more fully into our God-given potential as a "sent community" that is about the Gospel work of sending forth disciples into the world, full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Please join me if you can!
In the meantime please pray for the people our church is sending forth this summer: pray for their health and wellbeing, but above all that they might encounter and be encountered by the living God and experience the joy and blessing of fruitful ministry in Christ's name.
Blessings for a joyful, restful, and renewing summer.