I have spent a great deal of the last 21 months of my life pondering what it means to be sent; to that point that Keith and I and small group of St. Paul's faithful made the decision to start a ministry that was intentionally "sent."
We based our name and our purpose in the 21st verse of 20th chapter of John's Gospel, "Jesus said to his disciples, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And so, 2021 was born as "a community sent." We meet on one Saturday evening a month in a home somewhere near Magnolia River to tell people about the love of God without the strings and baggage that come with a church, and a steeple, and an organ, and finger sandwiches. I believe God is glorified by 2021. I believe that all of heaven rejoices when the several people we have met who haven't set foot in church in a long time join us for a conversation and a meal. Being sent is a good thing.
In the process of creating something "new", however, it became abundantly clear that contrary to what the research and the experts and the talking heads tell us, our small town, run-of-the-mill, 1979 Prayer Book Episcopal Church itself is very much committed to being "sent."
Maybe being named after the best known missionary in Christian history helps. Maybe being a strange mixture of people that lives in the hazy boarder of old south money, old south poverty, and shoot the dog and sell the couch retirees opens the door to experience all sorts of different types of people. Or maybe the parish has come to take seriously the call its patron Saint, Paul, makes to the Romans. "How are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?"
With Jesus as the gate, we have each been given the permission to go. And while we all go to different places and offer different gifts, we each do so with the Good News of God in our hearts and on our lips. God is glorified in a word of encouragement to a child struggling in school. He is glorified in a caring mother sharing a dinner with her busy children. He is glorified in the offering of a hand, or an ear, or a shoulder to a lonely neighbor.
As we prepare to be sent forth from this place and begin the day, give a thought to where you will go? While you are there, what will you proclaim? And as the evening draws to a close, who will you have glorified today? May God bless you this day, for as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Amen!