This year we have journeyed deeper into being sent, and our call to give our best to the last, the lost and the least. I spoke at the recent Team Training Day on being sent to, sent with and sent for:
- Who are we sent to? – Do we have clarity and purpose around this?
- Who are we called with? – Christ’s call is always in partnership, as the body of Christ.
- Who are we sent for? – Where does God ask us to bring His light into the darkness?
The difference between the sent for and the sent to is the ‘why’. It can be easy to lose our ‘why’. We need to rely on God’s Spirit to constantly open our eyes and open our ears to renew our perspective. Our daily prayer rhythms of repentance, thanksgiving and intercession intentionally renews our ‘why’; we connect again with the God who so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son. It is our motivation and love for God’s world that must call us and captivate us and convict us. When we talk about growing the church, as we have done openly amongst ourselves, we must be very careful that we are not growing it for our own sense of comfort and complacency, but that we are growing our release of people who will wholeheartedly follow Jesus into places and communities where more love can be manifest.
At Ministry Leaders’ Family Camp in the middle of the year, in our Bible Studies we explored the Beatitudes as a pathway of deepening maturity in faith and an outline of the Way of Jesus. Some of the studies were recorded and you can listen to them here:
The Beatitudes are Jesus’s invitation to us to live as Christ; to live into the kingdom journey that he himself continues to walk in his resurrected presence among us. Discipleship is accepting Jesus’ invitation to walk his Way with Him. Part of the idea of being ‘sent with’ is the gift of partnership that Bishop Justin and I have talked about in our last two Bishops’ letters, and encouraged you to live into in your own contexts. Walking the Way of Jesus means building Christ-shaped community.
Discovering our ‘to’ our ‘with’, and our ‘for’ will always increase our awareness of God’s love for us, as much as for those people and places that we serve. One of the most precious moments for me in this last few weeks occurred as Bishop Justin and myself left the hall at Palmerston North Convention Centre after Synod. A man from the streets walked in, looked me straight in the eye, and asked ‘do you people pray for healing here?’ Justin and I immediately put down the things we were carrying and stood either side of him as he showed us the wounds on his legs and asked us to pray for him. I do not know whether or not he had seen the flier invitations for the healing service held at Synod the previous day, but I know that his call for healing echoed the deeper call and desire to heal that I had felt and feel so strongly in God’s heart for our people.
In recent weeks I have also held many deep griefs where healing has yet not come in families of which we are connected. But those griefs can never overshadow the resurrection hope and promise and love that God calls us to hold. As the Gospel of John says ‘the light came into the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it’. Faith in the light of God in the face of darkness brings great glory to God. In the next Bishops’ letter we will explore that darkness and light in the context of our readying ourselves for the Advent season.
May God bless you all as you continue to explore what it means to be sent people in our Diocese and in this season.