Church of Our Saviour

21 Marathon Street | Arlington, Massachusetts | 781-648-5962

Thinking About Mission

As many of you know,  I am finishing up my studies at the Episcopal Divinity School this spring and retiring from the vestry and Sunday School teaching.  It has been a wonderful and challenging experience.  The challenge comes especially from trying to understand and live into God’s call to me–and to all of us–to participate in God’s mission on earth.  To me that sounds very serious and maybe even a bit intimidating.  Perhaps it does to you as well.

The Rev. Steve Smith, from Trinity Wall Street in New York City, offers an understanding of mission to contrast with more popular notions:

For most people, the word “mission” conjures up two images.  The first is from the bad old days of U.S. and European colonialism–a white missionary dressed in clericals, a Panama hat on his head, lecturing at the natives of any given country.  The second is contemporary–the evangelical Protestant or Mormon going door to door to recruit.  These images are part of the mission story.  But they are not entirely of the mission story.  Mission is much more than these two images.

Mission is our human participation in God’s on-going mission in the world.  God’s mission, which we join, is a mission of justice and peace so that all of us are able to live fully flourishing, fully abundant, lives.   Our joining in God’s mission is embodied in so many ways; the most are service with and for others (soup kitchens, school tutoring, Habitat for Humanity) and social transformation (actions that challenge the systems of oppression that keep so many of God’s children from fully flourishing).   In service and social transformation, the missionary moves across boundaries of human experience to share in the lives of others in a meaningful way.   Through mission we journey in companionship with others.   In that journey, we hope to realize the goodness that God desires for the world– for our neighbors near and far, and for us.

Over the next few months, I would like to explore how we, at COS, might be called to engage in mission within our own local community – especially to service with and for others.  I invite you to consider where there are areas of need within Arlington and where you feel the Spirit nagging us to pay attention.   I hope that we may have conversations and identify opportunities to work together,  journeying in companionship.   Realizing that we are all busy people with many responsibilities,  I envision us not trying to take on some major project but rather engaging in little ways that are meaningful–perhaps a collective work day here or there or small groups working informally.

Please let me know your thoughts and hopes.   I look forward to what surprises lie ahead for us,  as missionaries!

–Terry Hofmann

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