The Mission Continues
The gospel of Jesus has been reaching across countries, cultures and conversations since his first announcement that God’s kingdom was here. In his words and deeds; in his person and mission.
Jesus’ commission had been prophesied by God’s servants the prophets in the Old Testament, and affirmed in his baptismal waters at the Jordan River. Magi offered gifts and homage as recognition that Christ’s birth was the turning point in history, for Israel and for the world. In Epiphany, we have traced his steps. He ascends this week to the Mount of Transfiguration, and then surprises us with his call to mission.
Jesus continued this mission in his own ministry, then expanded it in the initial missions of the twelve and seventy and then to the disciples on the day of his return to heaven. Sending the Holy Spirit to the initially gathered one hundred and twenty only expanded the mission, sweeping past the earlier barriers that God had allowed so that they could one day fall in recognition of Christ’s role as King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s. Through the courageous and crusty apostles, their helpers and converts and disciples along the way, the early church sought the empowering of the Holy Spirit to live into the mantle left by Christ, the head of the Church.
And the mission continued. The history of the church is not narrated with the same inspiration and summation that we get in the books of the New Testament, and the faults and errors of the Christian past have caused many to reject the slow spread of the faith as evidence of its failure and look to some more recent “restoration” or restart. This is a mistake.
The history of the church does trace the spread of the good news. In its pages and testimonies, we see the Lord’s providence and guarding of His Body, and countless opportunities when faithful women and men took risks for the Lord’s sake. For the fame of Christ, they initiated conversations with their neighbors, bore persecution for their beliefs, said goodbye to their families and friends, served even their captors, started tract societies and utilized every form of conveyance to reach the corners of the world
Why? So that those who have not yet heard may hear what St Paul wrote to Bishop Timothy back when the church was young. “This is a true saying and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
The mission continues. As faith in Christ spread around the world, it has also been the mission of the Great Commission to apply the message of Jesus and the grace of Jesus to the hearts and lives of individuals and families, communities and nations. Good news for the world is also good news for mothers and fathers, for the unemployed and for the elderly, for the student and for the prisoner.
The good news of Jesus Christ arrived on these shores in the boats and hearts of settlers, both clergy and individual Christians who wanted the spread of peoples to be both strengthened and chastened with the spread of true Christian faith
Here is another look at the first priest at Jamestown.
As a native North Carolinian, I was taught in the fourth grade (and again in the eighth grade) the names of the first two people baptized in the New World. I am still learning the significance of this poignant joining of the Croatan Chief Manteo and baby Virginia Dare, granddaughter of Colonial Governor John White around a Christian font on two August Sundays in 1587
. These first two baptisms point us to the marvel of Christian mission, Anglican and otherwise. Reaching out and reaching forward are the same gospel muscles.
Extending Christ’s fame across boundaries and generations is the inheritance and call of all who bear his name. The many missionaries, missions and ministries our parish has the privilege of partnering with has given many of us the same chance to use those gospel muscles. For decades, God has blessed our parish with strong apostolic-minded mission leaders, once-in- a-lifetime friends, and connections that reach into homes and people groups throughout the world. And these blessings remind us of how big the world is, and how Christ powerfully unites us to those who are as unique as Baby Virginia and Chief Manteo.
Join us this Sunday with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration to see how his insistence of finding the right moment makes all Christian mission possible, and grants us the opportunity to share with him in his inheritance of nations.
See you Sunday,