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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Friday, March 07, 2003


All right, time to stop whining. "This is a day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it." That's not exactly a Lenten psalm, is it? Except that it's just the reminder I need that God is in the moment, even (maybe especially) when the moment is one in which I don't much feel like rejoicing. So, stand up straight. Deep, cleansing breaths. Onward.

I've spent last evening and this morning trying to begin the last assignment for my Gospel Mission class. The topic, as stated in the syllabus: to write a paper reflecting your perspective on mission and your participation in mission. In less than 2000 words, state a view of mission and where it intersects with your life and ministry.

Now I have lots of ideas around this topic, but I'm really struggling, trying to get them to come together in some sort of coherent manner. I guess I could start by saying what "my perpective on mission" is not. It doesn't stem out of LIberation Theology, as I understand it expressed around here. Is that heretical? Maybe so, to some of my classmates, but I don't start there. Feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, relieving the oppressed are all fine things, and integral to living out the call to Christian life; but they are the result, not the cause. The cause is the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, dying and rising for us and for our salvation.

My mission-- the church's mission-- is to proclaim that, at all times, in as many ways as we can find, so that all will hear and believe. We are to be "warning everyone and teaching everyone, so that together we can present ouselves mature in Christ. This I do with all the energy that He powerfully inspires within me." The feeding, clothing, and relieving all stem from that energy, that call.

We do not believe because we serve, we serve because we believe-- in Jesus, his teaching and his ministry. Sure, Jesus healed bodies-- as a secondary activity. His prime focus was in teaching, and healing souls. Remember the paralytic? Down through the roof he came, and the first thing that happened was that his sins were forgiven. Walking again was almost an afterthought; certainly 2ndary priority. And how often did bodily healing come as a result of belief and faith?

In the promises in my baptismal covenant. Seek and serve Christ in all persons, respecting the dignity of every human being. That's where we most often fail. The history of mission is littered with people who considered changing lives was their job, not God’s, so they worked from the outside in (culture, dress, etc.) instead of witnessing to the Truth in Jesus, and trusting Him to work from the inside out. deNobili's missionary coworkers in 16th century India, Native American conversions in this country, all of that. We do not convert; we can only witness, and pray that those who hear us will allow the Spirit to begin the process of conversion. We do not save; we are to proclaim and live the good news, and allow that salvation is God’s to grant, and another’s to accept or not.

There's some brainstorm blogging-- disjointed fodder for thought, or maybe just wet hay.


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