Man bedecked in orange raises his hands in the air

Week Two - The Mission of God

This year's Lent Challenge is accompanied by a six-week online Lent course. The material draws on the key themes of the new diocesan vision, Transforming Church, Transforming Lives - prayer and growth; transformation and the mission of God; the people of God, Church and Kingdom.

Each of the six week sessions begins with a time of prayer and a conversation starter to introduce the theme. This is followed by a Bible reading - and a reflection on that passage drawing on the tradition of lectio divina. This is a way of reading Scripture together, listening to it as God’s word to us, and prayerfully reflecting on it. Lectio divina might look something like this:

  • Read the passage through once
  • Keep a few moments silence
  • Read the passage a second time with different voices
  • invite everyone to say aloud a word or phrase that strikes them
  • Read the passage a third time
  • Share together what this word or phrase might mean, and what questions it raises

After reflecting on Scripture, a short reflection is offered to lead into further exploration of our response to the week's theme.

The discussion questions engage with the vision of Transforming Church, Transforming Lives. The ‘footprints' section is an opportunity to consider practical actions which we can take in the week ahead; actions which enable us to be alert to the activity of God in the world. These suggestions stand alongside those related to projects supported by the Bishop of Guildford's Foundation and the Diocese of Kebbi in Nigeria. Each weekly session ends with prayer.

Lent Course 2017 - Week Two - The Mission of God

Word document version of Lent Course 2017 - Week Two (as shown on this page of the website) - for simple download and print
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Opening Worship

Lent crosses imageGod the Father, Lord of creation,
have mercy upon us.

God the Son, through whom all things were made,
have mercy upon us.

God the Holy Spirit who renews the face of the earth
have mercy upon us.

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, creating and saving God,
have mercy upon us.

God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
That your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among the nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you
O let the nations rejoice and be glad,
for you will judge the peoples righteously and govern the nations upon earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
Then shall the earth bring forth her increase,
and God, our own God, will bless us.

God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

Psalm 67

God of our days and years,
we set this time apart for you.
Form us in the likeness of Christ
so that our lives may glorify you.  Amen.

Conversation
  • Is there meaning to life? If so, what do you think it is?
Reflecting on Scripture

For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he has made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,

'At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.'

(2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2)

Reflection

Mission statements are all around us: as we flick through a magazine, walk along the high street, browse the internet or wait for the film to start, we are confronted by expressions of purpose. In 1980, Steve Jobs’ mission statement for Apple was ‘to make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind’. Since then, that statement has found expression in products developed to be ‘the best’; in slogans inviting us to ‘think different’; in adverts embodying a life that is ‘practically magic'.

Churches also have mission statements: they say something about our core purpose, our aims and who we are. In our diocese, we have adopted ‘Transforming Church, Transforming Lives’. It speaks of being open to God’s Spirit in our own lives - and of becoming agents of Christ’s transformation in the world around us. To explore it in that way, echoes the teaching of Scripture - that mission is at the very heart of God. When Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, he reminds them of God’s mission and its impact upon their lives.

First of all, he roots everything in the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. He speaks of death and life; one died for all so that we might live for him. This is the message of salvation. God loves us and offers us a new start. In his life, teaching, death and resurrection, Jesus shows the depth of God’s love for us: bringing healing, restoring hope, forgiving us and promising us abundant life.

Secondly he talks about the way in which we are called to see each other differently because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are caught up in a process of transformation. Paul declares this with boldness. We are a new creation! To be created is to be in relationship - with others and with the world. To be a new creation is also about the way in which we interact with individuals, communities and our environment. We are agents of transformation, in the power of God’s Spirit: working for justice, building others up and sharing the gift of love. The Five Marks of Mission give us a framework to think about what this means (see below).

Finally, as we read this passage, we hear Paul’s words describing God’s plan for salvation - and what it means to be a new creation. The word ‘reconciliation’ is repeated many times. We are reconciled and we have been given a ministry of reconciliation. God reconciled the world to himself - and entrusted us with a message of reconciliation. This is God’s mission and we are sent into the world to participate in it.

The Five Marks of Mission are:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth
For Discussion
  • Tim Dearborn wrote: ‘It is not the Church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a Church in the world’. Where do you see the God of mission already at work in your own context? How can you join in - in words and deeds?
  • Sometimes the ‘Five Marks of Mission’ are abbreviated to five words: tell, teach, tend, transform and treasure. What challenges and encourages you about the scope and possibility of mission?
  • How did we learn the faith - how might that shape our approach to mission
Fingerprints
  • This week, commit yourself to living out at least one of the marks of mission in your care for individuals, communities and the planet; where have you seen God’s at work in the lives of others?
Closing Worship

Let us pray

Almighty God,
who called the Church to witness
that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself;
help us to proclaim the good news of your love,
that all who hear it may be drawn to you;
through him who was lifted up on the cross, and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen

A short period of silence is kept

Let us hear our Lord's blessing on those who follow him.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied
.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

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