Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

(Sign at the churchyard exit of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Edenton, NC)

Isaiah 6:8:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

That word "mission" is a really scary word for we "liturgical church types." sounds so...well...evangelical.

It sounds so...uh...fundamentalist.

It conjures up mental images of women in skirts with big hair and men in leisure suits sporting Conway Twitty-like hair, cornering unsuspecting victims and waving Chick Tracts in their faces. Visions of white-skinned do-gooders evangelizing the "heathens" in darkest Africa, or on native reservations, or worse yet, "winning souls for Christ" like there's some celestial BCS ranking for obtaining bowl bids in Heaven.

At its most benign, we might hear the word "mission" and think about things like relief in times of disaster--tornadoes, floods, earthquakes. Mission trips to build houses in places Mother Nature devastated or to drill wells in the Sudan so people will have fresh drinking water. Highly technical, logistically complicated "big projects." We are too often unable to wrap our heads around it and think, "I can't do that. I can't hardly take off work, let alone have any technical skills for organizing such a thing."

So because these sorts of words have been more or less co-opted by evangelicals, we tend not to use them or think about them. Because they historically imply a major undertaking in ways where we often know our skill set is very limited, we start feeling like the word "mission" means some big grand sweeping operation--something we know we would botch if put in charge of it. Or even be doing it.

Yet "mission" is right in your own back yard. It's at your workplace. It's right in your circle of friends.

Jesus didn't organize a relief society. He traveled from place to place, teaching and preaching and healing and simply being in the presence of the most marginalized members of society--the poor, the widowed, the blind, the lame, the leprous. He addressed the "others" of the society of that day as humans--the most common definition of "others" in the Gospels being the Samaritans, and women. For that matter, he provided almost nothing physical in the way of relief aid. He provided healing and hope.

Now, that's not to say anything against all the charitable works that churches do. They're necessary. They're needed. They're a wonderful opportunity for all of us to learn that "the other" is really "us." But it's not the only definition of "mission."

We simply have to look at the life and ministry of Jesus to find "mission."

Who are the "marginalized" in each of our individual worlds? I bet any of us can name them.

Then the next question is, "How can I give of myself to provide healing and hope for the marginalized in my world?" That's Mission 101 in a nutshell.

It certainly expands the vocabulary of "mission" to think of it in these terms.

Maybe it IS volunteering in a shelter or food kitchen or food pantry or jail ministry, or disaster relief. But maybe it's also the single mother down the street, or the marginalized cousin, or the bullied kid down the block. Maybe it's the widow who lives alone, your former, now-retired co-worker. Maybe it's your skills with social networking or your ability to put your fingers to the keyboard and blog.

Mission, mission, mission...all over the place...and when we actually can connect real faces and real hands to it, that word "mission" becomes less threatening, doesn't it?

It makes us a lot more willing to say, "Here am I; send ME!"



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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