From Rick Meigs...
To help reclaim it, I propose a synchronized blog for Monday, June 23rd on the topic, “What is Missional?”
There are any number of ways one could blog on this topic. You could illustrate what the term means, describe what it is not and how it is wrongly used, define the term, explore its misuses, explore its theological foundations, or you name it.
"missional landscape...borderless, scandalous table fellowship"
Well, here I am, it's Sunday night and I've had a week to reflect on " Missional ". I thought in the time the musings tumbling in my mind would have settled out and solidified into something concrete.Well, they have and they haven't. Maybe missional musing, should always be unsettled. But this morning, a typical Sunday morning gathering and these sound bytes; " ' we come here to meet God ', we come here for healing ', we come here to worship." Our focus is " Us " and " Place."
I love this quote from Ed Stetzer's Planting Missional Churches, " It's possible to be a missionary without ever leaving your zip code."
To understand " Missional", is to immerse ourselves in the reality of the gospels and rediscover that Jesus' church lived in the world and practiced an outrageous and scandalous table fellowship. From day one as Jesus calls his followers on a journey, he's not scouring the temples for the most religious and holy, he's not visiting the classrooms of Rabbi's for the wisest. Fisherman, tax collector, banker...a collection of the least likely to succeed on a faith journey. Jesus doesn't rent class room space to introduce a program, a plan, or start another religion. John's Gospel, in the opening chapters says Jesus pitched his tent in the midst of humanity, he moved into the neighborhood...Jesus moves his followers into the midst of humanity. They would journey dusty roads, back alleys, the open water...into poverty, oppression, sickness, homelessness, hunger.
The first experience of seminary on the road would be the Wedding Feast at Cana. Fascinating, that the introduction of the Good News would begin to unfold at a wedding, an instant snap shot of life. Here you would have the reality of life, community, family...the misfits, the dysfunction, the old, the young...the newly wed, and the nearly dead. Here Jesus, immerses, dunks his followers into the midst of humanity...as if to say, " this is what I'm all about...all of life, every speck of it. This is where I want you to live life, and give life."
This feasting and Table fellowship would weave its way throughout the gospels Here Jesus' followers would learn that missional may not be some arduous journey to a far off foreign land...that perhaps the longest journey maybe just sitting across the table of a stranger, the sick, the poor, and the oppressed. Whom you eat with defines whom you won't eat with. With Jesus it never appears to be a " social " program...it is radical, scandalous, outrageous...it's the Kingdom. It is the servant returning to his master's table with unopened invitations and list of excuses, and the master sending him out again. This time the servant heads to back alleys filled with syringes, skid row hotels, park benches, under bridges...any where, so his masters table will be filled to overflowing. All are welcomed all are invited. Here at this open table, we discover the world upside down...where suddenly the host is the guest, and the guest the host. Where the host is blessed more than the guest. Jesus entered into the other's world, and let them invite his followers as their house guests. In that way grace, life, healing, restoration could be poured back and forth.
Another story of outrageous table fellowship, is the feeding of the 5000.This table is not constructed of wood and four legs...it is the Lord standing on a hillside with 5 small barley loaves, and 2 fish, raising arms giving thanks and blessing. Two miracles here, one that 5000 people were fed...and 5000 people shared this table fellowship. There is the outrageous reality that in faith, we often find surplus when we welcome those outside our boundaries and borders.
These table fellowship stories could be the reality of what " Missional " is, it is " Sacramental Living." Not as a ritual, but as the redemptive imagination that is it's spiritual truth. It is sad in a sense that we have ritualized the bread and wine. This ritual of who's in and who's not...who's welcome and who's not. I wonder if Jesus imagined it to be that. Jesus table fellowship, the meals of bread and fish always reflected the Kingdom...surplus, and food the fed the poor. Jesus table fellowship always reflected the truth of the Kingdom, the truth of what missional should be about...redemption, restoration, justice, community, the reordering of a new creation.
And how can we forget the table fellowship stories after Jesus' resurrection. Jesus cooking fish on a charcoal fire on the beach. The disciples gone back to their old jobs fishing on the lake and not having much luck. Jesus calls out from the shore, telling them to drop their nets on the other side of the boat. They haul in an incredible draft of fish. Peter seeing his dear friend wades through the water to shore. On the beach Jesus, invites, welcomes, cooks fish for his friends on an open fire, and turns to Peter, " feed on my behalf." And I'm not talking just feeding food, a meal in the soup kitchen, I'm talking about feeding them the incarnational reality of the life of Jesus. In other words go and invite. To live in the neighborhood of Jesus...is to live and believe that all the world is welcome...to go. If the world is welcome to God, if my neighbor is welcome to God, then every living moment is a door into God into which the other is welcome. Our calling should be clear.
" It's possible to be a missionary without ever leaving your zip code." Missional is dispersed in the midst of humanity. Jesus mission started with leading of the Holy Spirit. He sends us into the world under the leading of the same Spirit. It is to bear witness, to build, to expand His Kingdom ...to redeem, restore, to feed, and to heal.
To read the rest of the Missional Synchro-blog musings, click on the following...
Other Synchroblog Contributors
Cobus Van Wyngaard