“With’ may be the most important word in the Christian faith” says Anglican theologian Samuel Wells. In the Gospels we see Jesus being with the people he encounters, mediating God’s grace to them with his own incarnational presence. For those in ministry, indeed for all disciples, being with people – the troubled, the afflicted, the challenged, and the seeking – is what the church’s incarnational ministry ought to look like.
At the beginning of Romans 12.1-2, Paul encourages followers of the Risen Christ to be faithful in their ministry of presence:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (THE MESSAGE)
So what can anchor us in this ministry of ‘being with’? In his book Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines that Shape the Church for Mission (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2016) David Fitch offers seven practices or disciplines for the church, practices that shape us for mission in our everyday working lives/world. These practices include: Lord’s Table, reconciliation, proclaiming the gospel, being with the ‘least of these,’ being with children, the five-fold gifting, and kingdom prayer.
Living into these practices enable us to ‘grow as communities of grace, joy, and peace so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world.’
Here at MRMC we are following a seven-part series of worship services based around the seven practices. Our worship will be based on resources compiled by the following team:
Garth Ewert Fisher & Claire Ewert Fisher, MRMC and Rosthern MC
Andrea Enns-Gooding, Waldheim MC
Sharon Schultz, Eyebrow MC
Ryan Siemens, MC Sask Executive Minister
Josh Wallace, Warman MC