The Mission of the Church – 23 June 2013
Guess what??? Yesterday was the 36th Anniversary of The Uniting Church in Australia. On the 22nd June 1977, in The Sydney Town Hall there was an inauguration service to begin this new journey of life, faith and mission. We began as the union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches in Australia 36 years ago. The document upon which this union was established is a visionary and inspiring statement called the Basis of Union of the Uniting Church in Australia. If you’d like to read it, you can find it http://assembly.uca.org.au/basis-of-union-1971-1992
Our church was formed because people from these three traditions were inspired by the vision of a new and uniquely Australian Church. They believed that they could better serve God by joining together rather than remaining separate. So we are both part of the old churches with our ‘European roots’, as well as a new and uniquely Australian church.
I’d like to quote from the Introduction to The Basis of Union 1992 edition where Gregor Henderson comments on the Basis of Union by saying, “Its grounding in Jesus Christ ‘the risen crucified One’, its commitment to the mission and unity of the whole church, its portrayal of church order and of the ministry of every church member, and its conviction that the living Lord Jesus Christ leads the church in its pilgrim way, make it a rich document which will nourish and guide the Uniting Church for the duration of its life”. (The Basis of Union 1992 Edition, p.3)
So today on this Birthday Sunday, I’d like to remind our congregation of some Biblical and Theological reflections about “What is the Mission of The Church?” This will certainly not be an exhaustive or complete understanding of this topic. It is merely a starting point and an opportunity to be able to reflect on this important part of the ‘nature of the church’.
In February 2010 a national dialogue group between the Roman Catholic and Uniting Church in Australia presented a series of reflections that drew deeply from the Scriptures and the Basis of Union. They presented the following 7 aspects of the Mission of the Church for dialogue, discussion and worship:-
- The Mission of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)
- Worship as Mission (Hebrews 4:14-16)
- Witness as Mission (John 5:31-38)
- Service as Mission (Matthew 25:31-40)
- Communion as Mission (John 17:20-26)
- Proclamation as Mission (Luke 4:16-21)
- Teaching as Mission (Matthew 5)
As I expand on these themes in worship today, I must say that this dialogue is merely an entry point for us to reflect on what it means for the Church to be in/on mission.
As a Uniting Church in Australia, our calling under God is to be a people journeying together on the way to God’s promised end by preaching Christ the crucified and risen one and confess him as Lord; and to hear his commission to make disciples of all nations. We do this by bearing witness to the unity of faith and life in Christ, which transcends cultural, economic, national and racial boundaries. We need to be a fellowship of reconciliation within which diverse gifts of its members are used for the building up of the whole and being an instrument through which Christ may work. By doing this we will recognize that our response to the Christian gospel will involve us in social, national and international affairs. We are a church that is active and on the move. Lets pause today and rest awhile as we Celebrate another anniversary.
Well my friends in Christ, may you have a very HAPPY 36th BIRTHDAY today and reflect on our calling and commission this week to be Reaching out, changing lives…..Rev. Brad Foote