Remember the 1980s corporate mission statement craze? Some of you may have spent countless hours on unwieldy committees word-smithing one or two sentences. While undoubtedly good things came out of that work, the Church has a very different understanding of the word “mission.” The word derives from the Latin mittere, which means to send. As Christians, we believe God is the “sender.” Therefore, mission is not something humanly concocted, rather it is God’s gift to us. The Prayer Book teaches that the church’s mission is to reconcile the world to God through Jesus Christ. Or as Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, “Mission is really making us all aware of the incredible love that God has for all of us.”
St. Peter’s has engaged in powerful mission work this summer. Week before last a group of about 18 youth and adult parishioners visited farmworker camps near Dunn, N.C. Our “missionaries” came back filled with testimonies about God’s presence among the workers who are in touch with joy and gratitude despite work conditions that most of us would call inhumane. They returned with a deeper commitment to work for justice on behalf of the farmworkers and to help them concretely by collecting proper gloves and work-boots to protect their bodies from pesticides on the plants they pick. Several of our middle school youth participated in mission work here in Charlotte at the Galilee Center on Central Avenue, readying the space for an afterschool program for refugee children that will launch this fall. And the St. Peter’s Choir School is away this week in Salisbury, England making God’s love known through leading God’s people in musical prayer.
One of the miracles of genuine mission is that both the people “sent,” the missionaries, and those to whom they are sent—the farmworkers, the refugees who visit Galilee Center, the tourists and locals who pop into Salisbury Cathedral—are changed in the process. Together, our hearts become more open, our minds more thoughtful, and our actions more loving. I wonder where your “mission field” is. How are you making God’s love known and discovering God’s incredible love for you and all creation in the process?
The Reverend Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector