Monday, January 31, 2011

Being Missionaries, or "What if ..."

I know exactly when I took the red pill.

I was in preaching class with one of my favorite professors and just chatting, he brought up the missional church movement. He explained that what they wanted to do was be missionaries, but rather than being missionaries in Africa or Central Europe, they wanted to be missionaries right in their own town.

And reality, as I had known it, crackled into a million pieces; my vision unfocused and I held on to the table for fear of falling off my chair and into a wormhole. He explained further and reality came back into focus, but a different reality than had been there before.

What if?

I profoundly believe in liberal religion in general, and Unitarian Universalism specifically. I believe the world would be a better place if we added a hundred, two hundred UU churches, all working on creating the Beloved Community. And creating the Beloved Community not within their church walls, but outside it, in their greater community. Doing guerrilla gardening and mentoring at the local elementary school, serving up a meal on Sunday for church members and the neighborhood. Focusing not on how many members in the church, but how many they serve.

What if?

Being a missionary, starting up a new church in the poorer part of town ... how is that more impossible than going to another country where you don't even speak the language, and learning a new culture, in order to better the people and save their souls?

I have a different opinion about saving souls. Mine is found in "Shalom," a word translated to mean "peace," but which is so much more. It is peace, rightness, and wholeness; it is both personal and communal.

What if?

What if you had a new church who knew from the get-go, that this would be their focus? That "church" was not where you met, "church" was who you are?

And what if these people were all willing to be missionaries?  All week long, in their own spheres of influence, they would pursue mission. At work, at the pub, on the softball field or Mommy and me group, they would actively try to spread their values, seeing themselves as missionaries. And would come together to work the mission field where their church was located.

And what if you had a large, established church, who decided that "missions" was not just something for fundamentalist Christians, but was instead a vital part of their mission, who supported sending a mission ... but rather than to Guatemala, to the other side of the railroad tracks?

And what if you focused on the indigenous culture in which you planted the mission, rather than trying to turn the "savages" into what goes for "UU Culture" these days?

What if.


DairyStateDad said...

Darn you, you keep shooting these diamonds that go right through my brain and my heart at once.

Bless you.

kinsi said...

I'd be among the first to sign up to be a missionary in that case. Wonderful vision for what we can do as Unitarian Universalists. Agree wholeheartedly.

ms. kitty said...

Boy, if anything ever sounded like a Call, that was it. You describe exactly my sensation when I felt my call.

Liz Hill said...

I can hardly wait till you're out of seminary. You're dangerous. (And that's a GOOD thing).

Lincoln Statler said...

I'm working on becoming a missionary and starting a movement now. I hope you call can join me. contact me and lets do this for our faith.

RevNaomi said...

Missionaries of shalom, of being for and with and of the community - yes!