THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH encourages people to follow the path of the Master, to follow the example of Jesus. Other great faith traditions encourage people to follow other spiritual masters. Teachers all. And what is common to the teaching and practice of Jesus, and of other masters, is a call to quietude, a call to mindfulness, a call to a deeper stillness.
How ironic that what we think of as mission all too often means that we fail to practice what we preach. We’re in too much of a hurry. Too mortgaged. Whilst Jesus gave time and attention within a limited space and time, rigorously maintaining his own discipline of solitude and prayer, we’ve fallen into the habit of believing ourselves capable of mission to the entire world. All of us, I mean, not just the Church. And we’d like the job in the bag by tomorrow.
And so our real mission fails. We lose the plot. We kid ourselves that we are what we are not. We turn to measuring, and begging, and banking, and we call it “growth strategy” whilst our spirits are shrinking. Thank God for the abiding of the teachers. Thank God for the patient abiding of the anointed, of “the Christ”. Thank God for the quiet watching and waiting of the poets:
… Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
from The Wild Geese, Wendell Berry