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.