I spoke recently during the evening service at my church, and I drew upon the idea of apostolic spirituality talked about by Susan Hope in her book ‘Mission Shaped Spirituality: The Transforming Power of Mission’. In this book, Hope challenges us to find out what happens to us when we become missional in our every day interactions; what happens to us when we simply go.
Apostolic spirituality is the moving away from a spirituality that is focussed on the personal union between God and man, instead focussing on going and being with people in their need. Now, I think both are essential for Christians. We are called to love God, and to love our neighbour. Is it too far fetched to think that there would be different aspects of our spirit involved in these very different relationships? I don’t think so.
Hope writes from personal experiences of how by simply going and being alongside people, she felt revitalised in her ministry and reenergised in her faith. She ponders whether there is a specific spirituality for Mission, and I believe there is. Most definitely. And here’s why…
On 17th January, a lady from church posted on Facebook, requesting items for an asylum seeker who was about to have a baby. I offered to donate a few bits, but it then transpired this lady had more than she needed because of generous donations. The following day, I was walking in town and I happened to bump into my godmother’s husband. I discovered that my godmother was gathering these items to take to this Albanian lady. A couple of friends had offered to cook meals for this lady, so I passed this on to my godmother and she presented me with an opportunity.
This lady speaks very very little English and is on her own in the U.K. Come with me and visit her.
So on Tuesday evening, this week, I went to visit this lady. I can’t use her name, so we will call her Chantelle.
For an hour and a half Chantelle and I chatted, with hand gestures, miming, Google translate and Google images to help. We put together a shopping list, decided what food I could bring for her, and exchanged telephone numbers.
Honestly, I find new social situations hard. I am shy. That is, I worry about social judgments, so I tend to stick to places and people I know. But this year, 2017, is going to be a year of stepping outside those comfort zones; a year of going and being with people in the ups and downs of their lives. Hope says, “What the Church of England could do with possibly more than anything else at present is an adventure’, and I think she’s right. We need to leave our comfort zones, take risks, travel into the unknown, and all of it with God by our side.
On a Wednesday I visited Chantelle to bring her food, and I calmed her fears about being tired all the time, and fluctuating emotions. We laughed and hugged, and arranged a coffee date for today, so she can meet some more mums and babies. I’m so looking forward to seeing how God works in this sitatuion. That Tuesday evening I could have cried, but I also left feeling exhilarated, as though I should sing loud songs of praise to God. Something within my spirit was awoken by taking an opportunity and going.
Look around you. Where are your opportunities? Where can you go?