What Are We Looking At? Blundering Thoughts on ‘Mission(s)’

Towards the beginning of the book of Acts, after Jesus ascends to the sweet by and by, there’s this funny little conversation between a couple of heavenly beings and the disciples.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

In essence, what are you looking at? Which, to me, is a funny sort of question, since it’s not everyday you see a man fly to the Great Beyond. Had I been standing there, I imagine I would have fired off a sarcastic response to the two men in white robes.

“What do you mean why do I stand looking up toward heaven? Did you not see what just happened there? Dude was just right here next to me. Right here! And he just took off like it was nothing. Man’s got some serious ‘ups.'”

Nonetheless, the question was asked: What are you looking at? Get to work. Got yourself a church to build…

For those of you who don’t know, that’s our theme at Westminster this semester: What Are You Looking At? (Side note… I am aware of the serious grammatical deficiencies to such a theme. As my English-teacher mother would no doubt remind me, you’re not supposed to end a sentence/question/exclamation with the word ‘at.’ So, for this, I apologize for sacrificing grammar to the gods of catchiness.) We’re taking a look at the growth of the early Church in Acts and the implications such growth has for us in the present day… namely, in how we tackle mission. All of which is especially appropriate and important this semester as we embark on two mission trips over Spring Break: one to Atlanta, the other to Miami (originally supposed to be to Haiti).

Mission. Mission. Kind of a buzzword in the Church these days. Not only at FPC Tuscaloosa, but throughout the broader Body. And beyond.

Where are you going on ‘mission’ trips? What’s your ‘mission’ statement? How does the Church do ‘mission’ locally and globally? Are you sending ‘missionaries’? Have you ever been involved in ‘missions’?

Mission here, there, everywhere. Literally and figuratively.

But do we ever stop and think about what it all means? Do we ever consider what the word ‘mission’ really entails, specifically as it pertains to the ‘stuff’ of the Church? Or do we just throw that term around lightly because it seems to fit? Because mission, at least in my book (which is pretty thin and has lots of pictures), is far too complex, far too weighty a term for us to take it for granted.

It involves people, change, conversation, Gospel, Spirit, relationship, laughter, fear, humility, tears, death, life, amazement, bewilderment, courage, fascination, faith, hope, love. It means that we’ll have to get some dirt underneath our fingernails. It calls us to do the work of selflessness, which is always messy, messy, messy. It renders us vulnerable. It takes us places we don’t want to go. It will have people questioning us and our motivation. It will be painful. It will be joyful. It will be uncomfortable. It will be complicated. It will just be…

And let’s not forget that it carries with it a sense of urgency. Mission is not just a once a year thing that we do during the summer or around Christmastime. It’s a year-round… no, make that a lifelong endeavor. Like the (seemingly oblivious) men in white say, “What are you looking at? Get to work. Lots to do. Right now. Go on, go on. Hop to. Don’t you worry. Jesus will come back when the time’s right. In the meantime, though, you’ve got a story to tell.”

So, you know… get to tellin’.

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~ by presbytide on February 22, 2010.

2 Responses to “What Are We Looking At? Blundering Thoughts on ‘Mission(s)’”

  1. Listen, if I can forgive Barack Obama for “A Change We Can Believe In”, I’ll let your grammar snafu slide. Realistically, “A Change in Which We Can Believe” would’ve made a pretty terrible campaign slogan. To further defend you thematic choice, you can site the ever relevant Madonna, who uses “What are you lookin’ at?” to open her hit song “Vogue”. If a Madonna reference can’t hold up in church…well, it would probably be a boring church.

  2. *cite

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