Daily Reading for October 11 • Philip, Deacon and Evangelist
The mission of the church should follow naturally from God’s mission. The word church traces to the Old English cirice, derived from the Greek kuriakē, meaning “of (or belonging to) the Lord.” Church is that which belongs to God and exists as an extension of God’s purposes and identity. Our very reason for being is rooted in God’s mission, but that calling has literally gotten lost in translation. Instead, “church” is a building, an assembly, an event, a family or a set of culturally prescribed rituals. Meanwhile, God’s mission is confined to the realm of evangelism or social action, is done by specialists and usually takes place across town or overseas.
But if God’s mission is the healing and restoration of all creation, if the good news of Jesus is that God’s reign is being fulfilled now and that we can join him as bearers of God’s power and peace, and that we need fear nothing, not even death—if this is true, then everything changes. The story of church as an insulated, kindhearted, cultural organization is dead. We must tell out the original story of the church as God’s people on the move for the sake of God’s reign. . . .
Every church can become a community of the reign of God. That is because every congregation has an Other, a group that has been historically and systemically cast to the margins because of oppressive systems that mar the body of Christ. We pursue God’s mission whenever we move toward justice and mutuality in Christian community—oppressed and marginalized groups bringing new life to the center, tradition-bearers at the center bringing new life to the margins, both groups radically welcoming each other to bring our whole selves before God, God’s justice reshaping our relationships as we tell a new story together.
From “The Church Awake: Becoming the Missional People of God” by Stephanie Spellers, in Anglican Theological Review 92, no. 1 (Winter 2010).