We're on a Mission From God
First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday, Year A
Genesis 1:1-2:4a, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20
When we hear these words, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you,” I wonder if we hear the mission for the Church. Most of us have witnessed people being baptized in the church. We hear sermons that teach us to obey Christ’s commands. And of course, we know that the church tries to be a welcoming place for the people from all nations to become disciples. This is a wonderful way for Matthew to end this Gospel; with a message from Christ about all the good the Church should do and I believe tries to do. But this is not what this passage is about. The Church is not Jesus’ focus.
We hear make disciples, or welcoming nations, but this is not what should jump out at us. The words that jump out should not be baptizing, teaching, or obeying. Though we need to be doing all of these things, these are not the words that we should primarily be focused on. The word that should impact us most is GO. Go therefore. We are commissioned to go into the world, go into our neighborhood, and do all these things. The Rev. Jacobson says, “The church finds its identity when it participates in the mission of the triune God.” Since we are the church, this means we have to go do God’s work in the world. We have to work with the triune God am
ongst all the people. Jesus didn’t say, wait for the people to come to us.
It is true that we do need to be a hospitable place for people to come to learn and to be baptized or even to find refuge from the world around them. But we also have to be humble enough to accept the hospitality of others by going into the world. In Luke’s Gospel account, Jesus sends 72 followers to towns ahead of him. He said,
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”
From this passage, we can see that we are called to go into the world graciously accepting the hospitality of others; eating the food they eat and even sleeping on their beds if necessary.
We seem to be concerned about going into the unknown parts of our world, our neighborhood. But what we need to remember is that the Holy Spirit is already there ahead of us. This was true for the disciples. They know when they entered the house if it was a place of peace or not. And this is true all the way back before time.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,. . .and the wind of God was hovering upon the face of the waters.” In Hebrew, the word for wind is Ruach, and Ruach means breath, wind, or spirit. Just as in Greek pneuma is breath, wind, or spirit. So in the beginning, the breath of God or the wind of God or the Spirit of God was hovering upon the waters. Here we find that the Holy Spirit was actively participating in the creation before time. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” It is interesting that God didn’t just think about light and there was light. He didn’t wave a hand. God spoke. God said words. And using words is important; for we know the Word of God is Christ. So we also find that Christ was active in creation as well. The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all together at the beginning of time in creating the universe.
The Holy Spirit was at the beginning of time before us, preparing a place for us. The Spirit is with the disciples and the Spirit is with us now. To find our mission in the world, we have to go into our community where God, Son, and Spirit already are at work. This is how we engage in the work of God.
I don’t know how many of you may remember the movie The Blues Brothers, with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. The story is about two brothers, one was just released from prison. They go to visit a nun at the orphanage where they were raised. She tells them that the school needs to pay $5,000 in the next 11 days to stay open. To redeem themselves the men feel that they need to raise this money in legal ways and they are convinced that they can do it by reuniting their old band. Along the way, things don’t work out so easily but they are on a mission from God, which drive them to keep going; even when they are struggling.
When we are doing work in our community we will discover our mission, our mission from God. We will find out who we are and through this work, we as a church will find our identity as well.