The Mission of the Church
The Catechism (An Outline of the Faith, BCP pp. 845-862) in The Book of Common Prayer instructs us as to the mission of the Church.
Q. What is the mission of the Church?
A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
Q. How does the Church pursue its mission?
A. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.
Q. Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
A. The church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.
The mission of the church, and thus, the ministry to which all of us are expected to practice daily is timeless. We are not called to seek unity with each other and with God now that a chaotic and rhetorically distasteful election is over. We are not called to the mission of the Church now that we enter the stewardship campaign at Holy Apostles. We are not called to the mission of the Church now that we anticipate Advent and Christmas.
The mission of the Church demands a way of life that is lived every day. To say it demands this life of us may evoke resistance, because we do not, at least I do not, always respond well to demands. Yet, the alternative taken as an option is disunity with each other and disunity with the life God has imagined for us. To consider the mission of the Church as optional is to assert that the Gospel is irrelevant, and that justice, peace and love of neighbor has been achieved. The demand is necessary as our human will always wrestles with tepid participation and limited commitment in embracing and following Jesus’ way of life.
The result of unity with each other and with God may be quite obvious: the end of civil strife; the absence of violence in all forms; prejudice, bigotry and hatred replaced by compassion and love; suspicion overcome by empathy; and the ability for each of us to see the face of God in every person. Ideally, the mission of the Church is not to address or fix societal and theological problems, but to eliminate them with the love of God in Christ which is what unifies us. We might be amazed at the power of love when love is given a fighting chance. Good deeds and good works are necessary, but they lack their full power when they are done absent the goal of those actions being unity with every person and God.
The restoration of unity with God and each other in Christ is non-negotiable for us as disciples. While many organizations offer loving and compassion support for worthy causes, the mission of the Church is unique in reaching for the desperately idealistic goal of unity with each other. To be certain, we will struggle to accomplish the mission. All kinds of stumbling blocks will be present themselves, and the perseverance of our faithfulness will be called into question. Yet, I believe in the mission, and I will continually invite us to strive to fulfill it.
I hope you will join your brothers and sisters at Holy Apostles and throughout the church in committing again to our mission. This video went viral this week and seems relevant to this purpose.
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