What is Mission?

I just finished my third year of Seminary. Most of the students who started with me just graduated and are moving on to their ministries. Since I have been attending part-time, I still have a few years to go. I haven’t shared much about my experience with my classes here mainly because it has been a real rollercoaster ride and I have just been holding on for dear life! Though it has been challenging, it has also been transformative and life-giving. I am not the same person I was when I started three years ago. I would like to be more intentional about sharing some of my Seminary experiences here so I’ll start with an essay I wrote on the Christian mission. This essay was for my course on Interfaith Studies, Comparative Theology, and Ministry where we learned about many of the world religions and how to best engage with others from different faiths.

The question for the essay was: “What are the features of ‘Christian mission’ in a multireligious society characterized by a widespread poverty and social inequality, animosity and violence between people due to various factors, and ecological deterioration?”

While I am sure there was an appropriate academic answer, I decided to go with a more personal, reflective response. Here is what I wrote:

Our Christian mission is to serve God’s people – not just Christians but all of God’s people – with love and humility rather than with arrogance and power. We are to listen to and lift up others and to trust that God is already working in their lives. We are to be the student when called and to be the teacher when called, and the only way we will know which one is called for at any given time is in relationship with one another. 

Jesus tells His disciples in John 13:34-35, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” I am not sure that Jesus would recognize us as His disciples, as we have failed to love one another. We have not loved as Jesus commanded and the state of the world is evidence of this. The world does not appear well-loved.

So what does this love look like? For me personally, it looks like education and loving across lines. It looks like advocacy for the marginalized in my life, specifically the LGBTQIA+ community. It looks like holding open doors and inviting people I know and love into spaces where I am allowed but they are not. For me it looks like writing a blog, where I share my faith, my spiritual practices, and my struggles with the state of things. For me it looks like standing at the edges with those who don’t feel like they have a place at the center. For me it looks like donating time and resources to the organizations who are working tirelessly to make room at the table, to feed and educate the poor, to plant trees, to teach God’s word, and to share the benefits of spiritual practices. It looks like working with children and youth so they too can live into a Christian mission of love. It looks like cultivating friendships outside my faith to better understand others and their experience with what I call God’s life-giving Spirit. It looks like laying down my religious language so as to open lines of communication with the rest of God’s people. For me it looks like having hard conversations with people at my church, in my family, and in my friend groups about how Christianity and God’s word have been used as weapons against the least of these. It also looks like learning how to repent and apologize when I have been the one in the wrong using my faith as a way to judge or harm others. It looks like being willing to learn something new every day and being willing to wander into uncharted territory for the sake of love, relationship, and justice. 

I certainly do not have all of the answers. I am grateful for educational and religious leaders who are willing to take a stand and teach those under their care how to better love people. I am grateful for brave voices from the margins who have risked everything to call attention to injustices and disparities. I am grateful for a savior who came for all of us and I pray that we can be better so that He will know us by our love, and as a result, all will know the love Jesus came to share. 


I am asked: “What is your inner source of orientation? What is your inner compass?”

So I begin to wonder….hmmm….what guides me?

To be honest,
curiosity points the way.
I follow until
the road gets tough
then I ache to
turn back.
Who wins? Comfort or curiosity?
On a cold day, maybe comfort.
When I have the energy, maybe curiosity.

So, is curiosity my inner compass?
Sounds dangerous but true.
Sometimes I wish for
something more noble
like wisdom
or faith
or even courage.

Truthfully, I am a shy adventurer.
Always on the lookout
for another shy adventurer
to explore with.
Someone whose courage
I can borrow, or whose
wisdom I can follow
and whose faith will
keep us on the path.

Being shy makes
companioning difficult.
Needing alone time, quiet,
solitude, but friendship too.
The paradox, the balancing
of the paradox.

Maybe someday I’ll have the
wisdom, courage, and faith
to explore on my own.
Maybe someday I’ll trust that
the companions are
already waiting for me
just up the road a bit.

Maybe someday I’ll take
that one step that
leads to the rest
of my life.

Today, it seems, I’ll just
write about
the dream of it all.


My brain is drafting a conversation about ‘comfort zone.’ In Sunday School today we talked about calling and how sometimes it can be hard to follow a calling because we are not willing to go outside our comfort zone. At the time, the thought of being willing to find a new comfort zone came to mind. I think sometimes I get stuck in the thinking that my current circumstances are my only comfort zone. But once upon a time, whatever it is that makes up my current comfort zone was new. To even get where I am today, I had to leave a previous comfort zone. I was also thinking about how what if our comfort zone was not really about our external circumstances but about our relationship with God. What if God is our comfort zone? What if following Christ is our comfort zone? Being in God’s will is our comfort zone? I think about how at the end of every school year my daughter, Lindsay, wouldn’t want to leave her existing grade. She loved her teachers and her classmates and her schedule…it was her comfort zone. As a parent, I knew that soon the next grade would become her comfort zone just as it had the previous year. I think God is like the parent in that situation — knowing that whatever this next thing is, that it will become our new comfort zone. And that God will be in the midst of it all.

I don’t know if that paragraph eloquently explains exactly what I am thinking, but it hints at it. I think in a conversation it would make more sense because someone else would fill in the blanks for me. In community, we would be able to flush out the truths behind the words. God’s truths. In Sunday School today, Charlie brought up community and that many times we find our calling in community. I believe that is so true. That we ‘become’ in community. I think that is God’s design for us. I think that is why God gave us family and the church. So that we would live and grow in community and become God’s people together.

I am thinking, “Who is my community today?” Obviously, my immediate family, Rick, Lindsay and Rachel, and even my crazy dog Molly. And then my extended family is my community. My neighborhood is my community. My church is my community. My friends are my community. My seminary peeps are my community. My candidacy cohort is my community. Even the greater world is my community. Last week my friend, Shandon, invited to me try out a new small group practice. In this practice, you choose a discipline to lean into during the coming week like Worship, Scripture, Prayer, etc. The one that jumped out at me was Community. And then I join one of my communities for a Sunday morning discussion and we talk about community. Ok God, I am listening.

This week was hard for me regarding community as I am mourning the loss of one of my family members, one of my community members. That community is now rocked with grief at his absence and I am unable to be physically present with them. Actually, unable to be physically present with most of my community.  It makes me treasure my immediate family all the more, my immediate community, the community I am grateful to be sequestered with. I have also been thinking about community in regards to school, my school and the girls’, as we wonder what community will look like in the fall. We have all decided to start school online for the first nine weeks, so school community will be a virtual community. I am so grateful for the technology that can keep us connected. I guess that is what most of the bible is, if not all of it. A ‘technology’ that keeps us connected. Much of scripture is letters that were written to separated communities. Paul wrote to churches when he could not be physically present. The scriptures were documented and passed on to future generations so that we may all be connected even though we are not physically together. I think about what I write and how that is used to connect me to a broader community and hopefully connect us all to God. Hopefully it is a conversation — that someone else will fill in the blanks of what I share so that we all might find the truths behind the words. God’s truths.

Mark 12:30 comes to mind:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

That is community. 


Thank you Lord for loving us in and through community. Help us to share your love as we lean into the communities you have so lovingly provided for us. Help us honor and love as you do.

In Jesus name I pray,