Tell (March 10, 2019)
We are on the journey of Lent again, a journey to the heart of our faith. This season of Lent is a season of discipline. Discipline is not a popular concept these days because it reeks of punishment and correction. But the word discipline actually comes from the Latin root discipulus, which means “pupil”. Discipline has to do with learning and growing.
In this season, we engage in the discipline of growing in our relationship with God. We do that every day, every week, every moment, but Lent is a gift of grace in which we reflect more intentionally on how we can centre our lives more fully and more firmly in God. We make time to reflect on our baptismal covenant with God. We make time to take stock of our life in faith. We make time to become more open to God’s grace working in our lives.
This year we will use the Marks of Mission as our guide for reflection. The Five Marks of Mission were developed by the Anglican Communion about 20 years ago. They seek to help us understand that the life of the church is rooted in God’s mission.
Let’s be clear that it is God’s mission. It is not our mission. It is not Christ Church’s mission. It is not Yme’s mission. The mission belongs to and is initiated by God, who is at work in the world and invites us to participate in God’s work of healing and reconciling the world.
We can refuse to do so, of course. But then God will turn to someone else. And we will have failed to be the church.
I’ve said it before—we are not the church for our own sake. We are the church for the sake of the world. We have to make a difference in the world. We are called to live out God’s mission in all that we do. We are invited to live as agents of God’s healing, compassionate, and loving grace in the world. We are called to be people of reconciliation.
The Marks of Mission will help us reflect more clearly on the mission and ministry given to us as God’s people. We open ourselves to God’s grace so that we might live out God’s gospel purposes in the world more faithfully.
So this season, rather than giving something up for Lent, let’s add something. The whole purpose of this season is to make space for God’s spirit to work in our lives. So as we add something for Lent, we open ourselves up to the work of grace so that we walk more consciously in the way of Jesus.
I know I need help with that. I think we all do. So thank God for Lent.
We begin. The First Mark of Mission is To Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. Think of it this way: “We Tell”.
We have good news to tell the world. You all know that this broken world needs some good news. There are scandals wherever you look. There is hatred and prejudice all around. People are being bullied and hurt and ignored and oppressed. Creation itself has become a victim of our greed.
And that’s not just on a macro level. It’s true of our friends, our families, our neighbours. We all know people who need to hear that they are loved, that they have value, that they have hope.
We have good news to tell.
Many Anglicans are afraid of this. They think of hearing people on street corners talking about God. Or they think of going door to door—as I had with the Jehovah’s Witnesses yesterday.
But that’s not what this is. This is simply about sharing good news which makes our lives whole with other people.
We tell others about God’s place in our lives. We tell others why we find comfort in God’s presence in our lives. We tell others how our trust in God has strengthened us.
Let me give an example. We’ve all heard about “doing random acts of kindness”. Both atheists and Christians can perform random acts of kindness and in both cases these acts have the same wonderful effect.
But the difference is that for us who follow Jesus, doing random acts of kindness is part of our ministry as God’s people. When we perform these random acts of kindness, it makes us feel good, and we enjoy doing it, and we know it’s a good thing. But we remember also that we are participating in God’s ministry in the world. When that begins a conscious thing for us, it begins to make a difference in our lives. We are learning to see that our acts are a way of living out God’s gospel values.
And when that becomes a conscious thing for us, we are living out this first mark of mission. We tell. We proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom.
We tell good news in acts of kindness, in words of grace, as we reach out with grace and compassion.
And here’s the wonderful piece of this … we do this kind of stuff all the time. It comes naturally to us. We tell our friends about what’s important to us all the time. “Telling” is such a natural thing for us to do … We go out with our friends and talk about what’s going on in our lives. We go for a coffee and a chat. We walk around the block with a neighbour. We go out for a snack or a drink after the Kootenay Ice game.
And we tell. We talk … about what makes us happy … sometimes the struggles we’re facing … about the things we like to do, our hobbies, our frustrations. We talk about our lives. We tell what’s important to us.
The first Mark of Mission challenges us to remember that God is part of our lives … that the gospel is part of our lives … that we are people of God who walk in the way of Jesus. You don’t have to beat your friends over the head with your faith … but do they know how important it is in your life? Do your friends understand the hope you find in your relationship with God? Do your neighbours know the peace that fills your heart? Do they know how, in times of difficulty, that it is your faith that has given you the strength to face it?
Last week, I gave you some homework, just as I do with the two guys in Confirmation class. Do something this week just because you are a follower of Jesus.
For this week, let me invite you to tell someone about the God who loves us, who inspires us, who longs for us, who heals us. I’m not suggesting you force your belief on someone else. I’m just inviting you to tell someone you know about the place of God in your life.
And then imagine it … God’s love spreading through your words, your actions. Imagine it. All of us, working with God, to make the world more whole.
Someone in this congregation did that this last week. She reached out to a stranger in the hospital who was feeling alone and anxious. She reached out to her just because of her faith in Jesus. You should have seen the joy on her face as she told me about it. You should have heard how the woman she talked with felt so much better as someone reached out to her. And wouldn’t you love to be the person who can’t wait to tell me how it went? Wouldn’t you love to see a whole line of people sharing their good news stories?
We have good news to tell.
The First Mark of Mission: We proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. We tell.
Will you do that this week? Can you?
Thanks be to God.
Rev. Dr. Yme Woensdregt
March 10, 2019 (1st Sunday In Lent)
Deuteronomy 26: 1–11
Romans 10: 8b–13
Luke 4: 1–13