Missio Alliance is an ecumenical group that does not want to avoid the challenges of living as the church in the twenty first century. Because of that, they continue to make a serious effort to host conversation about how the church can engage in mission in a postmodern world. Many things are worth repeating following their recent gathering “Awakenings: The Mission of the Spirit as the Life of the Church.” Some of them are included below.
The conference began with conversation on “The Holy Spirit: Our Forgotten God.” The reasons we could forget the Spirit may be numerous but Todd Hunter suggested these reasons may include the explicit gospel we grew up with does not mention the Holy Spirit. And he thinks we equate the Spirit with weirdness and try to separate ourselves from that. Hunter reminds us the Spirit could be grieved by wacky excess or by being ignored. He concludes by telling us it was Jesus who said “it is better that I go away…” And that to be the people of God is to be connected to the Spirit.
Over the course of the gathering we were encouraged to look at the Spirit from different angles and through the lens of different traditions. This was a helpful exercise. Throughout we were in agreement that the Spirit intends to strengthen the church by the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit has no interest in promoting individual advancement. The Spirit is not interested in hierarchy, but unity. Not celebrities or heroes but community.
We cannot reduce the Spirit to mere gifts. To reduce the work of the Spirit to individual gifts is to miss the point. The Spirit is always about the Body. And the Holy Spirit is not only about the Holy Spirit. This is about God. And God in relationship. Trinity gives us a fuller picture of God. It was N. T. Wright who mentioned the Spirit weaves us into God’s poem. Some of us may be sonnets or haikus or limericks to help the world imagine His new creation. We are his workmanship, the masterpiece of the Spirit.
Other things I find scribbled in my notes include;
-There is a vast difference between believing something and living in the narrative of the people of God.
-From the day of Abraham it is evident that the people called to provide the solution are part of the problem.
-God gave the church the bi-vocation of worship and mission.
-The church is not the manager of the guest list, but the welcome committee.
-Church cannot be reduced to a utilitarian tool, it is a relational entity.
-The tabernacle is a small working model of new creation. God dwells here. We are the tabernacle people, the Spirit dwells within us.
-God is shaping the church to be someone who will show the world what Jesus is like.
-The church is following Jesus into the future, no matter what is out there.
A big thank you to Missio Alliance for this conversation!