Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Words in spaces
No matter how often people might talk of their mission in life - or organisations talk of their mission statements - it seems that when a lot of us hear the word ‘mission’ in a church space, we sometimes only think of age old stories of ’the missions’ - of special places, usually poor and a long way from home, where special people went (or still go) to do special work.
Not the exception
Of course there are still distant places in need of generous care. But ‘mission’ isn’t meant to be only some kind of exceptional place. Nor is ‘mission’ only for people in particular vocations.
The word ‘mission’ is from the Latin ‘missio’ – and it refers to the ways our faith ‘sends’ us into life in the world. That sending can be across the street, across the building, across the family, across hearts, across the nation or across the world.
I was never taught that!
When I was a child I wasn’t taught that ‘missionary’ and ‘apostle’ are the same words from different languages - and that they refer to ordinary people like me. These links only happened well into adulthood From the Greek ‘apostolos’, Jesus had apostles in the bible – I knew that. But apostles or being apostolic is not only about those twelve in the bible! I can now see that saying that would be as silly as saying that faith is only for the people in the bible!
Our call – our dignity – as missionaries
Another word I’d heard early on, but didn’t relate with, was ‘disciple’ - which I much later realised means a ‘follower who is a learner’.
In our Christian faith, we believe that we as disciples – are each then called to missionary life (or apostolic life - same meaning, different language) – that is, called to be missionaries (or apostles - same meaning, different language). So now, I get it, that disciples becomes missionaries when they says ‘yes’ to being sent into life - sent into life to consciously live and share faith in their many different ways. When a baptised disciples says ‘yes’ to being sent into life, into living and sharing faith - he/she is a missionary.
Born in 2019, this little treasure has great teachers from whom to learn of her call to be a missionary disciple; a minister of God’s mission in and for the world.
Might be worth another read!
This reflection is not meant to be some kind of language puzzle – but might be worth re-reading to emphasise our dignity as people who share in God’s mission; a mission in and for the world. As people of faith, we are called to be missionary disciples – ministers of God’s mission in and for the world that God loves. There’s our identity, our dignity and our commission as baptised Christians.
With friendship in God’s mission,
Originally featured in paulfromifm.org.au in October 2019