The Holy Spirit is God’s energetic presence with us! All the symbols and images for the Holy Spirit: birds, red flames (the colour of passion), fire, wind…, speak of movement and power. There is a wildness about God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit liberates us from fear and makes us audacious and courageous. What image of God’s Spirit resonates with you?
The Holy Spirit is a gift to the community. With only one exception: all of the references to “The Holy Spirit in you” in the New Testament are a plural “YOU” — “you all.” This truth unfortunately gets lost in English translation, which has led to an individualistic interpretation of the Gift of the Holy Spirit. It is clear from the appearances after the resurrection, Jesus’ presence is most evident when we gather and act in community. Even our celebrations that pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon or strengthen an individual (e.g. baptism, confirmation, induction, ordination) are always communal acts, for the sake of community.
The Holy Spirit inspires, commissions, and entrusts us with God’s mission. And also equips us!
One of the vision statements of the Diocese of Kootenay is “Empowering Mission.” This is, of course, really the work of the Holy Spirit, with which we are invited to cooperate.
The work of the Bishop and thus Synod office is to Empower Mission, together as a Diocese and in each local worshipping community, parish, or ministry. We share Mission as a Diocese. For example, we have named “Refugee Ministry” as something best shared at the Diocesan level, with the Rev. Canon Nick Pang chairing the Diocesan Refugee Team to support local initiatives.
But mission also needs to be local!
We know our mission in general is to embody the Love of God for the world. We hold in front of us the vision of God’s kingdom of Shalom, peace with justice. As individuals, as disciples of Jesus, our mission is named clearly through our baptismal vows. As a diocese and as local communities, we live out the “Five Marks of Mission.”
Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
For ease of memorization, our former Primate Fred Hiltz laid it out in five words:
- Tell the Good News
- Teach to nourish disciples
- Tend relationships
- Transform unjust structures
- Treasure the Earth
I don’t think we need to find a new mission! This is the ongoing Mission of God, the Mission of Jesus, which is now ours. But these statements are quite general, and in order to have a vital sense of Mission NOW, we need to revisit our common mission frequently and make it concrete, local, immediate and do-able. Our mission responds to the current needs of the world, which means we are always listening and researching those needs locally.
How do you live these Marks of Mission in 2022? How do we live these out in our own neighbourhood and in our unique context? Yourself personally: what is God calling you to do? In your church: what is God calling you to do? It would be a helpful exercise in your parish council to look at the five marks of mission and see what you are already doing in each category. Healthy church communities are always helping people to discern and deepen their discipleship, equipping people for ministry. How do we help each other to make our service to God and neighbour concrete? We all say yes to dismantling systemic racism, but it is much harder to have the courage to speak out in the moment when someone issues a derogatory slur.
May the Holy Spirit blow through us with transformative power to make us bold!