See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them. ~ Isaiah 42:9
Happy New Year! We are wrapping up our study of the book, Surprise the World, and looking at the last (fifth) missional habit of seeing ourselves as “sent ones.” I know I am not that old, but I am old enough to have grown up like many of you in a time where we in the church glorified missionaries as people who went off to far and distant lands to grow churches and spread Christianity overseas. The world has changed quickly in thirty-five years. Christianity in the global south is growing so rapidly that when I was in Wittenberg, Germany last March there was a missionary from Kenya invited by the Lutheran Church in Germany to help them evangelize!
As America becomes increasingly secular, it is evident that right here in Syosset, God is calling us to be missionaries, or “sent ones.” The truth is, seeing ourselves as missionaries is a little scary. It is difficult to think about how we share the gift of our faith in Christ with people we already know, with friends, neighbors, even family members. We don’t want to offend anybody, and we don’t want to be seen as a “crazy Christian.” People might ask us questions we don’t know the answers to, and people might flat out turn our invitations to church or other events down.
I encouraged us all to read this book, Surprise the World, because I felt that the author offered five simple habits that would make living out our faith in the world a little easier to wrap our heads around and try. Perhaps trying these five habits could be a part of your list of resolutions: blessing others, eating together, listening for the Spirit, learning Christ, and seeing yourself as sent. The author’s suggestion is that we journal weekly the ways we have alerted others to the reign of God in Christ through word or deed. He also admits that research shows that it takes an average of 66 days for someone to form a new habit (from Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick by Jeremy Dean). Keep that in mind in taking on any resolution in this new year!
As we begin this new year, my prayer for you all is that you begin to see yourselves in a new light, as people beloved and created by God for a purpose. Throughout scripture, God promises that God will be able to bring about new things: good changes in us and through us. We can give over to God the things we want to change in us, and we can be supports for one another as we strive to live as God calls us to live. That’s what being the church, a community of Faith, is all about!
Pastor Rebecca Sheridan