Occasional thoughts of an Anglican Episcopal priest

This Is About Jesus! – From the Daily Office – June 30, 2012

From Matthew’s Gospel:

A very large crowd* spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Matthew 21:8-11 – June 30, 2012)

The end of June and we’re reading about Jesus’ triumphal entry? OK, whatever . . . . ~ At this time of year and at this particular time in the life of the Episcopal Church (just before the General Convention), my attention is drawn to the last sentence of today’s gospel lesson, the fact that people told one another about Jesus. ~ A couple of days ago, I mentioned a friend’s blog post about “the real problem” in our church, our failure to name Jesus and center our mission on relationship with him. Since then, as the church prepares for our triennial governing synod, more people have said nearly the same thing. A group of convention-goers is coalescing around the name and concept of an “Acts 8 moment” and planning to get together at the convention to share stories and explore how to reinvigorate the church’s mission. Their intent is “put everything out on the table, including our dearest structures”. ~ Some years ago, the Anglican Consultative Council devised the “five marks of mission” for the Anglican Communion. Recently, the Presiding Bishop has proposed re-organizing the church’s budget around those “marks”. The “marks of mission” are: (1) To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; (2) To teach, baptize and nurture new believers; (3) To respond to human need by loving service; (4) To seek to transform unjust structures of society; (5) To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. ~ Notice anything missing? Unlike the crowd in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the marks of mission do not say, “This is [about] the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” I think they should. I can’t be in Indianapolis on July 5 to join my “Acts 8” friends at their planned gathering, but I commend any who are to find them and gather with them. And in the discussion of where we should go from here, I commend them to remember, and to say loudly, that “this is about the prophet Jesus!” (Read about Acts 8 moment here . . . or join the Acts 8 group on Facebook.)

2 Comments

  1. Leaven of the Pharisees

    How does “proclaim the good news of the kingdom” and “to teach baptize and nurture new believers” exclude Jesus? How do you teach someone without making it about Jesus? How does baptism function without mentioning Jesus? How does a church proclaim the good news without mentioning Jesus? I think this “Acts 8” gathering is a good idea, but to think that these five marks leave out Jesus seems a bit of a stretch to me.

  2. eric

    Certainly the first two marks imply Jesus. But responding to human needs, transforming unjust social structures, and safeguarding environmental integrity do not. Those can be (and often are) done by those who make no claim to be Christian or followers of any religion, and they often do them more effectively than the church and its members do. And there are followers of Christ who argue that they are not the business of the church. I believe they are, but the “Marks of Mission” statement makes no effort to make the case that they are, nor does it in any way connect those laudable goals to Jesus’ gospel message. If we are doing them simply because they are good ideas, that’s one thing. But if we are doing them because they are the mission of the church of Jesus Christ, the “Marks of Mission” statement should make clear how and why that is.

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