The Cal-Nev Annual Conference met last week in Burlingame. It is always a joy for clergy to re-unite each year with brothers and sisters serving appointments throughout the states as we come together in Holy Conferencing and to conduct the business of the church. And it is a joy also to see so many our United Methodist laity from around the states, delegates from their local church and leaders in our denomination.
I am so blessed to begin this Sunday my 4th year as your Pastor. My appointment to Santa Clara UMC fixed by Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño at Thursday morning’s reading of the appointments. I am so blessed to work alongside an amazing church. We celebrate the re-appointment of Pastor Julia Borjeson as supply pastor.
As I begin my 4th appointment year, let me remind you that Jesus said, “Go.”
As the church, we come to worship and want to stay a while. We schedule our lives into this time knowing that worship keeps a rhythm in our faith, a tempo in our spirituality. This is our most sacred shared exchange with God, experienced as community with like-minded folks who know similar struggles and hold common hope. Here we are wanting to stay awhile, and Jesus, the Lord in whose name we gather, says: “Go.”
Please, may we be honest with ourselves, with God, and with one another? We’re not at all sure that we really want to “Go.”
It took much courage for some of us to come here, to keep coming as we do, to go to that Bible Study, to volunteer to serve on that committee, and give our hard earned money. We’ve made the place relatively comfortable, enough so that we’ll probably come back next Sunday; so we are just not real keen upon arriving to meet a savior who says, “Go.”
When Jesus commissioned his first disciples, his instructions were also to you and me together as the church: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…”
I know, and you know, too, that we’re more inclined to stay right where we are. We can rationalize that we affirm his authority simply by being present here together in his name. Before we content ourselves with faithfulness on our own terms, let’s remember the biblical witness: Jesus loves us, saves us, and whose promised Holy Spirit sustains us. We listen to him. Jesus tell us to “go,” and we respond in mission and ministry.
Our going is faith in motion to change the world one life at a time. Doing missions is our living Jesus’ instructions to make disciples, and teach them what we learned from Jesus.
I remember a conversation I had with a missionary in Cambodia. She said her mission was to build relationship and show God’s love by serving alongside Cambodian people, meeting their immediate needs, and adjusting social systems so they live life to its fullest.
The church does missions as a selfless sharing of Christ’s caring. Our shared missions work is our living beyond ourselves, in which we find our deepest meaning as children of God.
Our mission is about teaching others what we learned from Jesus. Christians do missions in practical ways. Through our practice, our doing Jesus’ life lessons, we model how to love God, our neighbor, and ourselves.
Doing missions helps up remember and affirm the presence of the living Christ. The church does missions because Jesus is present in these acts of servant discipleship. “Look, I myself will be with you every day…” Jesus said in Matthew 28:20.
Let’s pray: Lord in our selfishness we want to be still and stay in the sacred space, embraced by your Spirit and enveloped in your love. Please forgive us in our hesitancy to go beyond these halls and walls to live your mission in this world. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Pastor Vathanak Heang