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Posts Tagged ‘mission’

Were the Wise Men on a Short Term Mission Trip?

 

Short term missons 1

Epiphany is a mission season.  It is a mission season in reverse to what we normally think of when we think of missions.  Instead of Christians going to visit those who don’t know Christ, the so called “pagans” come and find Him.  The visit of the Magi presupposes some missionary enterprise had taken place before.  Maybe some Israelite had journeyed to a far country and made witness to a coming Messiah and these wise guys heard of it, or maybe the arch-missionary, the Holy Spirit made it known in some other proclamation of the Word we don’t know about.  How ever it happened the Magi were on a mission – they were an embassy to greet the King of all, and the Lord of Lords.  Foreigners came and made it know to God’s chosen people that Christ had been born in their midst.  They become witnesses to us of God’s desire that Christ be the Savior of all.

Mission is important, in fact I believe that the church exists for that purpose.  People love to go on short term mission trips for a variety of reasons.  Yet sometimes when folks come back from a short term missions they find out that not everyone is as thrilled with them or their trip as they think they should be.  I had a correspondent on this blog tell me that when they came back to their home church their Pastor was frustrated that they called themselves “missionaries” because they were not sent.  Their well intentioned trip caused a problem between them and their called servant of the Word.  Others go abroad and find that they were working with folks that do not have the same confession of faith and they were participating in what we call a “heterodox” mission endeavor.  Some go and find that their well intentioned efforts had negative consequences to the folks they visited with and the church to which they belong.

I thought that “mission” was a pretty simple endeavor until I came on board a Board.  The Board for International Missions is, according to Lutheran Church Missouri Synod bylaws, the only sending agency for funds or personnel into the “foreign mission field”.  Sounds pretty simple right.  Well when we throw into the mix mission societies and individuals and other folks this rather simple statement becomes at least for some a real stumbling block.

We are going to be thinking about that over the next few days because the idea of controlling the sending of missionaries or suggesting ways that it could be planned and carried out in and “decent and orderly” fashion really bugs some folks.  I could make a quip here and say that we need to be “wise men and women” when we go on a short term trip but I won’t.  Instead I will refer you to handy little piece of work put out by the Office of International Missions that will help you in getting ready and planning for a short term mission trip.  Please check it out and download it and comment.

http://wmltblog.org/2015/01/lcms-best-practices-in-short-term-mission/

 

 

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The “Always” of Advent. Thoughts on Irene in the Phillippines.

1 ThessIt occurs to me about very month or so that preaching is a dangerous business.  I’m glad it occurs to me only about every four weeks or so or I probably wouldn’t do it anymore.  It is a nerve wracking experience as it is but to think of it as being dangerous can be debilitating.  I’m not joking about this like I do with some things.  Preaching is a great privilege.  It is also a great responsibility and it is terrifying.  God wants His Word to be spoken.  The foolishness of preaching is the way God chooses to deal with the world.

I spent a lot of time thinking about yesterdays blog and Irene from the Philippines, who by my count, gives thanks in the midst of a very depressing and scary situation, at least eight times in a very short note.  We have the 3rd Sunday in Advent coming up and that marvelous  lesson from Thessalonians – 1.  “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.”

I want to preach this text.  I want to crawl into the pulpit and really let go.  Paul tells you to rejoice and pray and give thanks always, and you folks can’t even rouse yourself out to church once a week to give thanks for anything, even the good stuff.  We have people around the world that live in the most difficult situations giving thanks over and over again and meaning it and you complain and become bitter and angry when the hockey team loses, or the weather gets too cold.  You don’t know the meaning of rejoice.  You don’t know how to give thanks.  You treat prayer as if it were the key to the great candy store in the sky and when you don’t get your way you pout.  Paul says that this is the will of God for you and you have proven over and over that not only do you not do the will of God, you don’t care what His will is.

O yeah, this text will preach.  But here is the danger – do I really want to say that?  Yes I do!  Is it really true what I want to say?  I think so, and by the way I include myself in the “you folks”.  But is that what Paul is saying?  There is the danger.  I dare not get my message mixed up with God’s.  When I preach I must be able to say “Thus saith the Lord”.

This text and may Advent texts are really about the coming of Christ at the end of the age.  The gift we get from God is that because of Jesus death and resurrection we are living in the end time now.  We are free to be thankful because the old has passed away and the new creation of God is here in Christ.  We are free to be always rejoicing because that is what our hope has confirmed in us.

Of course we are not being told to keep a set of rules or regulations or perform to make a preacher happy! This is not a command that must be fulfilled. This is not a chance for the Pastor to rant and vent his frustration with empty pews and declining attendance.  Rather, Paul is showing the work of the Spirit in the church which is the place that God has chosen to dispense His gifts.  In the midst of life that seems to be falling apart and days that grow darker and darker, it is the Spirit’s work that produces and sustains prayer and rejoicing  and thanksgiving. We have come to call these things “fruits of the Spirit”.  They are always connected with the church, the assembly, the called out ones.

That is why all these folks that say they believe in Jesus, they just don’t go to church are deluding themselves.  They are solipsists.  Sadly their numbers are growing.

More on this and mission, worship and even praise throughout the week.

 

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