Mission statements have been popular in recent decades, to help organizations clarify their reasons for existence and their goals. Organizations can spend a lot of time defining and wordsmithing their mission statements!
Today, Jesus gives us his own mission statement. It’s not original to him; he gets it from the greatest of the Hebrew prophets, Isaiah.
It’s not a safe mission. It’s often hard to quantify. But it’s clear enough, if we want to hear it:
To bring good news to the poor. (What is good news to the poor? Probably a job that pays a living wage.)
To proclaim release to the captives. (I think of many American students who graduate with a mountain of debt before they ever get a first paycheck)
Sight to the blind. (Do we help people see all God’s people with dignity, and not demean groups… whether Muslims, refugees, gay people, black people, or brown people?)
To let the oppressed, go free. (think of families with little children, risking their lives to escape persecution in Syria)
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Jubilee year – erasing all debts, restoring economic equality to all the people)
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” proclaims Jesus.
When we think of our mission at St. Dunstan’s, how well to we match up with the mission of Jesus, the one we serve? Are we truly finding ways to bring good news to the poor? Are we helping to release captives and people who are oppressed by the system? Are we bringing new sight, and insight, to ourselves and our neighbors?
Well yes, we do make efforts to do some of these things. We make sandwiches, tuna casseroles to feed people. That’s good. We explore scriptures and the events of the world around us, seeking insight and wisdom. Some of us have studied economic inequality and proposed actions the church can take to lessen the huge gap between rich and poor.
But we tend to play it safe. We are risk-averse. That may have worked for the church in the past, but it doesn’t work in today’s environment. Jesus’ mission is a bold, audacious one…turning the established order on its ear. If we want to be faithful to Jesus, we as his church can be no less bold. JBM