Mission Sunday: Making Much of Jesus
While we may not think about it much, there are certain times when we can count on certain things taking place (or not taking place) in our culture today. One of the biggest examples is directly connected to corporate worship: if you step into a church building on a Sunday morning, you’d expect to see people inside, singing or listening to a sermon.
This last Sunday, August 22nd, if you had walked into the New Philadelphia Nazarene Church between 9:30am - 12:00pm, you would have experienced something a little different than expected: you’d have seen a group huddled together in the sanctuary, praying fervently. You might have heard faint noises coming from the basement as people set up tables and prepared food. Possibly a cry coming from the nursery of a toddler who wanted to play with a toy already being used. The other 90% of the people ‘at church’ that morning were nowhere to be found.
That’s because this was one of our Mission Sundays.
On these couple Sundays a year, we as a congregation spend our normal worship time (and then some) mostly out in the community, serving in various ways - from building ramps to spreading mulch; from washing cars for free to scraping and painting benches. Our first Mission Sunday was held in July of 2018 with a clear vision to love our community well. The desire was to create a tangible way to pour out Jesus’ love on our neighbors through no-strings-attached compassion and service.
Fast forward to August, 2021, and the vision remains the same. Everything - every piece of trash collected, every bottle of water handed out, every neighbor prayed over - all of it is meant to give glory to God. We are wanting to make much of Jesus and to point to God, not to ourselves or NPNaz, when we go out.
Jesus demonstrated this posture as he went about his daily life. He participated in communal worship and spent quiet time alone with God, yes, but let’s not forget that he also engaged all kinds of people at all kinds of ‘inconvenient’ times. He provided tangible needs (healing, food, etc.) and brought outcasts back into their communities - often on the Sabbath when you ‘weren’t supposed to do those things.’ He also taught us in Matthew (25:31-46) that the way we either serve or ignore the people around us, even in the small ways, matters. A lot.
The truth is, in all of Jesus’ words and actions He gave praise to God. Jesus’ acts of compassion and service were not a distraction from worship, but were themselves acts of worship. After all, what is worship? It’s much bigger than the songs we sing when we gather, or a Sunday morning service in general. Christian worship is a continual posture of giving praise to God. Every human being is continually praising and pointing to something or someone. So, when we as believers go out into our community and point to Jesus, it is worship in action.
Paul puts it this way: we, as the Church Body, are called to be Christ’s hands and feet in this world through the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:27). That is what Mission Sunday is all about. Yes, communal times of worship are important. So is engaging our community with the love of Christ. So, rest assured: we gathered on Sunday - young and old and everyone in between - it just looked a little different and more spread out than normal (until we gathered again at the end to share a meal and celebrate communion together).
Mission Sunday is not a ‘worshipless’ Sunday, but a Sunday filled with worship in action that makes much of Jesus. And I can’t wait until the next one!