At the heart of the Diocesan Mission Action Plan is the idea described among theologians by the Latin phrase mission Dei—the mission of God. Rather than being centred on us and what we do, such an approach asks how we together can participate in God’s mission in this world.
Mission is NOT first what we want to do for/to others. Mission is first what God has called the Church to be and to do in the world. In the Old Testament, God sets Israel on a mission to be ‘a light to all nations.’ In the New Testament, God in Jesus Christ sets the people of God on a mission to ‘be his witnesses to the ends of the earth and the end of time.’
But God is also active in the world independent of his people. Indeed, God is constantly going about mission on his own terms. Creating the universe is part of God’s mission, as is God’s self-revelation through the Scriptures as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God’s constant turning in love to create and re-create is part of this mission. The joy for us is that we are invited to join God, to participate in all he does.
Mission includes embracing the world with God’s love and building community relationships as well as the evangelistic proclamation of the Gospel. It also means the growth and care of people in the church, by giving social and material help, nurturing the people’s faith, encouraging them in discipleship and providing opportunities for worshipping together.
Proclaiming the Gospel, building the faithful, healing the hurt, and overturning all forms of evil are essential aspects of understanding mission in the church. And yet, there is no ‘one right way’ to participate in the Mission of God. It is therefore necessary for all Dioceses and all parishes, and even all individual Christians, to consider deeply how they are being sent by God to participate in his work in and call to the world.
So, we here at St Paul’s are also called to consider how God can use our gifts and our limitations to be part of God’s work in the world.
We don’t have to do it all ourselves, but we can be participants in bringing God’s love to this community and beyond.
Blessings – Tim