“Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.””
Isaiah 6:8 NLT
Archbishop William Temple is credited for saying that the greatest danger facing the Church is losing sight of the fact that it exists primarily for the benefit of its non-members. When church becomes the objective of our gathering together, we have missed the whole point of Jesus’ incarnational message. Having served as a church leader for some 21 years, I discovered just how easy it is to lose my bearings and invest my energy in keeping the church afloat, as if God needs a helping hand. The issue with the professionalisation of church leadership is creating a contemporary version of clericalism.
Here in the Oratory, we are conscious that any construct can move from being a vehicle to deepen encounter with God to an idol that all too easily replaces God. If all our attention is given to the worship of God, defined as prayer and personal pursuit of the divine presence, we neglect the essential element of service as demanded by Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). Service is quite simply demonstrating our love of God through the practical way we live out our lives.
No surprise, then, that the third principle of the Oratory is to serve in the mission of God. Each of us is sent by God to further God’s purpose in the earth. There are myriad ways to fulfil this command. One thing’s for sure, there is no credible witness to the reality of God beyond the lives we lead.
Here Isaiah hears the call of God and must make an active response with the simple declaration, “…Send me”. Some imagine that the life of a contemporary contemplative is to withdraw from the world. How so? For God is all and in all; as present within the sex industry as the House of Bishops!
You have a part to play in God’s mission. Missionaries are not some separate ‘super’ breed of Christian. We are all missionaries, serving the purpose of God where we live, work and play. Beware the danger of becoming consumed with church life and losing your bearings in God’s greater purpose for your life.
Where are the places God is sending you to?
Lord, open my eyes to the opportunities around me every day to serve you.