The Unfinished Task and the Missio Dei


Today is the commemoration of John Donne, an English poet and Anglican vicar. In his memory I sang hymn 684, Creating God, Your Fingers Trace, in ELW in my morning devotions, the final stanza of which is written:

Indwelling God, your gospel claims one family with a billion names; let every life be touched by grace until we praise you face to face.

Jeffery Rowthorn

The prayer in this hymn relates to the unfinished task, a term which put simply refers to the great commission. In the hymn written by Jeffery Rowthorn, captures the evangelical hope of the Church, namely that through the Gospel every life, every soul will experience adoption into God’s family, and wake up to the reality that “in him we live and move and have our being.” The expression of this as a hope takes the form of a sung prayer and implicates the unfinished nature of the Gospel’s work in that “who hopes for what he already has but we hope for what we do not yet have.”

In attempting to relate the unfinished task to the overall context of the missio Dei, I wrote this in the opening paragraph to my senior synthesis:

Though not to neglect the larger and broader thrust of the missio Dei in its overarching bend towards the establishment and advance of the Kingdom of God as expressed both in his sovereign, just, and loving reign and shalom, at the heart of the missionary task lays the Great Commission including both the proclamation of the Gospel and the discipling of the nations. According to the words of Jesus this task shall not yield or forbear till history has reached its consummation (Matt. 24:14). Therefore the reality that there are places of resistance or absence in this task remains as yet a crucial dilemma in the Church’s praxis. Because the preaching of the Good News of the Kingdom and the act of teaching lay central to the missionary task, communication and being able to be communicative within the cultural context one finds themselves in is of import. Furthermore, the incarnational pattern of Jesus lays the foundation for philosophy and heart that drives contextual communication. In other words, as Jesus as the divine Logos entered from the “culture” of heaven into human culture and into the worldview of humanity so the disciples of Jesus replicate him as they move from one culture to another and seek to enter into the worldviews of those whom they are called to bear witness. Thus the missiological context of the unfinished task sets up both the problem and suggests the way forward, that “as we go” we go at least a time in the shoes of another, seeking to understand in humility the way they see the world.

Identity and Worldview of Emerging Japanese Adults, Spencer Wentland

In terms of my larger missionary community in ELCA Global Mission, this “as we go”ness of mission relates largely to the missiology of accompaniment. It relates to the how we do what we do. In many ways, what we do will in turn by shaped by the how we go about doing things because the relational priority that accompaniment brings, a priority rooted in incarnational way of Christ, the direction fo where we are going and the what we do in terms of the immediacy fo mission will shift in ways that often dynamic and complex.

Accompaniment is defined as walking together in a solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality. 

What I argue in relating the unfinished task to the missio Dei, I also now argue for in its relationship to accompaniment. Although accompaniment subjectivizes mission this subjectivity is always subset in our subjectivity to the Lord Christ. Just as the Word of God is the source for the Church, it is also the source for her mission within this relationship we have an objective Gospel and an objective commission to disciple the nations that informs and shapes the how (accompaniment) and the what (evangelical mission) of what we do.

Although what the Church does as it participates in God’s mission may be varied and diverse, the priority of the unfinished task should not be neglected. To completely shift from an apostolic character, advancing the Gospel in unreached places, to a catholic character, relating mission only through channels of ecclesial partnerships because of the relatively ubiquitous nature of the Church in our time, ignores the fact that much of the world remains out of touch with any expression of the Church in any form. In order to be consistent with the purpose of the ELCA as stated in paragraph 4.02 B, we must renew this commitment to an apostolic character and nature of global mission. Accompaniment, in as much as it is rooted in the Way of Christ, continues to shape how mission is carried out whether it originates in Christ’s Great Commission (apostolic orientation) or the external call of companion churches (catholic orientation).

Carry out Christ’s Great Commission by reaching out to all
people to bring them to faith in Christ and by doing all ministry
with a global awareness consistent with the understanding of
God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all.

CONSTITUTIONS, BYLAWS, AND CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Statement of Purpose, 4.02 B

In my next blog I want to relate the idea of task to God as I wrestle through some ongoing metanoia in my understanding of the missio Dei.

About minuiperiannath

Name: Spencer Wentland College: North Central University Year: Senior Major:Intercultural Studies My story of meeting Jesus in short: Not many weeks after I was born my parents baptized me into the Christian faith at First English Lutheran Church in my hometown, Appleton, WI. There they renewed their promises to renounce the devil and his ways, the world and evil and raise me the same way teaching me to love and fear the Lord, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creeds and when of reading age to put the Holy Bible in my hands and all the while, with the church community, instruct me in the Christian faith. My parents weren't perfect but they did fulfill the vows they made at my baptism. I had my own more personal experience with the Lord around the age of seven when I followed Jesus out of the Gospels to a "quiet, lonely place" in my backyard with the hope to do whatever Jesus did there. Without realizing it or ever being taught how to "receive Jesus into your heart" it happened quite like that even seeing a mental vision of Jesus and knowing I need to welcome him into my heart and let him sit on the throne of my life. I've never been the same since then and the Lord has kept his promise to be with me "always." I confirmed what my parents chose for me in a public confession of faith and the ritual of believer's baptism at a local swimming school where the Assemblies of God church my mom attends used to do their baptisms. I've never regretted a life with Jesus; life has always been richer, deeper and fuller because of it. About Me: Ha that's a funny question, and a popular one today. Well, if you really want to know "all about me" you will have to meet me. For starters I am hard to put in simple categories and often find myself tumbling between labels; i.e. introverted and extroverted, strong and weak, intuitive yet a rationalist, introspective and social, unique and individual yet needing people and empathetic. I belong to and am part of the Way and that is probably the most defining important part of my being. (Acts 24:14) As a God lover in the Way of Jesus Christ I long to see and embrace all things and people in his love for his glory. Creative people and places energize me. I enjoy and appreciate art and artists and like to contribute and collaborate in making my own art at times. I need my own time and spend a lot of time in contemplation- this is where I get recharged and new vision and vitality for life. A con of my personality is my ill attempts to understand everything about everything. At the same time I also get energy from others and love to be sociable. I make matrix like connections in my mind and although my comments often are perceived as random too me they are very connected to something. To me connection and harmony are very important and I believe the truth brings that out. The last few years have been filled with learning, studying and meeting wonderful people. Copenhagen, Escanaba, Nagasaki, and now back to Minneapolis! So excited to learn, grow and finish my last year at university! Call: I feel strongly called by the Lord to work and give myself as missionary of love to the Japanese people. As the Lord leads I hope to take a missionary assignment through ELCA Global Mission teaching English and serving in congregational mission and leadership in Japan. Eventually I would like to serve as an apostolic worker planting boiler rooms (missional/monastic communities) around the Japanese archipelago with a bunch of other Jesus lovers in international, incarnational bands of friends. About this blog: This blog is for my Church Administration and Personal Finance class. I'm looking forward to interesting and practical conversation and learning that will help develop my leadership and organizational skills for however and whatever takes shape out of the Lord's call.

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