NEWS

The marks of God’s mission: Part one

By Bishop Todd Townshend

Thanksgiving and praise. This was my first response to our celebration on January 25 at St. Paul’s Cathedral as I was ordained bishop and seated as the 14th Bishop of Huron.

It was a very beautiful moment in which the Holy Spirit of God conducted a liturgy of healing, upbuilding, strengthening, and sending — and not just for me. So many of you have let me know how it was a meaningful day in your own ministry and walk with Jesus. I am so grateful to all those who prepared for the day — a huge job done with cheer and excellence. My thanks to the people (primarily women, thanks be to God!) who planned and lead the liturgy, to the visiting bishops, to the Dean and Cathedral community, to the whole diocese for your faith and service.

I would also like to thank those of you who gave so generously to outfit me in episcopal gear. These gifts will be worn, I pray, in a way that will always point to God’s Word and Spirit in our midst. To be “clothed” by members of this diocese, and by friends from beyond, is a most holy gift. Thank you so very much.

My thanksgiving and praise is directed to all of those whom I mention (and cherish) in the preceding reflections but, of course, every good gift comes from God. The God who has a mission within the created order and within our church. The God who rightly deserves our thanks and praise. For the next couple of months, I’d like to ask the members of this diocese to consider the following.

We continue to be shaped by the “Marks of Mission” in our diocese. I support this fully.

We proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom

We teach, baptize and nurture new believers

We respond to human need by loving service

We seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation

We strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

We have learned a very important thing about our purpose in life when we can act in these ways. The part that is missing, however, is that God’s own mission is often assumed, implied, or completely forgotten as we focus on the things WE are supposed to do. All of these “marks” are impossible without God’s prior action—without God’s activity in mission within creation.

So, what is God’s mission? What are the many ways in which we can articulate and proclaim this? What are the Marks of GOD’s Mission?

Let’s continue this conversation over the months to come. Scan the holy scriptures and the tradition of the church and gather from the patterns and proclamations a list of clear statements that may reveal the ongoing mission of God. Think of Creation, think of “the fall”, think of the calling of Israel to be a light to the nations, think of the Christian “key” to understanding and entering it all—the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We can pray with these thoughts in mind. Together we can broaden our focus to see what God has done, what God is doing, and what God promises to do. These will reveal the marks of God’s mission for our time and place. May this focus show us again and again the source and goal of our lives.

+ Todd