Well we have been on this “Journey With Jesus” through Mark’s Gospel for over a week now. Its been great to hear a sort of “collective voice” from our community as different people have contributed their thoughts. I hope you have found that experience as personally enriching and challenging as I have. Our aim in focusing in on Jesus during this spiritually significant time if you remember is about more than personal spiritual growth. We are also seeking to learn more about Jesus and his priorities and mission so we can use that as the starting point for us to think about our future and how we should structure ourselves as a community to carry out the mission of the Kingdom of God we are called to. I have been reflecting on what I have learned this week which I think has significance for us a church, I would love to get your feedback, especially on anything you think I have missed.
KEEP THE MAIN THING, THE MAIN THING ….. There is manger, wise men, stories about childhood trips, Jesus just explodes on the scene in Mark’s Gospel and Mark keeps the focus firmly on him. Jesus provokes questions everywhere he goes by what he does and says. People are provoked by him, inspired by him and become committed to following him. I have been reminded that those things only happen when we, like Mark’s Gospel, keep the focus on Jesus.
MISSIONAL IS NOT JUST A TRENDY WORD …. Every book, christian conference and web site these days seems to have the “m” word in it somewhere. I worry that the word is becoming more about style than substance. However again I was reminded by Mark that this word is when used properly describes something tremendously important. Jesus by calling the first disciples is consciously reconstituting the people of god and right at the start he calls them to be shaped by mission “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men” To follow Jesus is to be equipped, inspired and empowered by Jesus in his mission of drawing people to God. Mission is not an activity of the church its part of the nature of the church, a missionless church is an oxymoron, like dry rain or winning Scottish rugby team.
MISSION IS INCARNATIONAL … Mark’s contribution challenged us to recognise again that mission is incarnational in nature. In mission we don’t just invite people into our spaces to events we are comfortable but we go to them, into their world. Mission takes us beyond our comfort zones, I think it was Neil Cole who said involvement in mission will mean “sitting in the smoking section” at times, going where personally we perhaps rather we didn’t have to.
MISSION IS TO THE LEAST, LONELY AND LEFT OUT …. Jesus specifically reaches out, to despised tax collectors, people possessed by evil spirit, the disabled and those with leprosy, all people who in different ways were excluded or rejected from mainstream society and especially religious gatherings. That has to have implications for us as we think about mission doesn’t it?
MISSION NEEDS THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT …. On Sunday night Jaap reminded us that mission needs the empowering and leading of the Holy Spirit. Jesus mission kicked off after the Spirit descended on him, that whole baptism scene raises so many questions but one thing is not in question, the Holy Spirit is indispensable for mission.
RYTHMN …. In this opening section of Mark’s Gospel I have been hearing the rhythms of Jesus life. He had a rhythm of “activity and rest” “engagement and solitude” “city and desert” We have to find a way of developing a spirituality as individuals and as a church which echoes Jesus pattern. This section also contains another important rhythm for any group like us to learnt to live by. Jesus Mark says calls the first disciples “That they might be with him” GATHERING and “and that he might send them out to proclaim” GOING
I don’t have much to add to this other than to say that I agree 100% with your synopsis. I also want to caution us not to just continue trying to work out the perfect way forward because some of our most precious lessons might take place as we move forward and perhaps get it ‘wrong’. I think the key is to be lead by The Holy Spirit. We run the risk of thinking and talking about missional and incarnational rather than just being missional and incarnational. I know that all of us are at different places in our journey so I hope no-one misunderstands my comment but rather understand that I am saying that we all need to begin living this within the capacity that we are being lead to do so.
Love you all and as always proud to call you my spiritual family.