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peace_planetRecently I sat down with my favorite prayer book, Peace Planet, Light for Our World. It isn’t a new book. Nan Merrill and Barbara Taylor wrote this call for peaceful prayer following 9/11. But these aren’t just prayers about peace. They are prayers for peace for each country in our world, starting with Afghanistan and ending with Zimbabwe.

I love that it is globally inclusive but I am even more drawn to the fact that each prayer is crafted without judgement or censure. Each prayer is for the country as it is, not as we would have it be. What do I mean? Here is the prayer for Afghanistan:

We are all One
In the Heart of Love.
The divine spark
Can be seen
In the eyes
Of all we meet.

We are asking,
May
Peace
Flourish on Earth.

Is this a prayer for Christianity to overtake Islam? For women to quit wearing the veil? No. It is a respectful prayer for peace.  In part, this appeasl to me because I think we will win a lot more people through respect than we will ever bring over with intolerance.

Recently, a Presbyterian missionary came to our church and told us about the work being done in Egypt. The Presbyterians have actually been invited to build within Egypt. They have been invited because they don’t come in and tell the people what they need. They have a reputation for moderation. They come in and ask what a community needs, listen to the answers, and address those needs. They work to improve lives, but they work from within the community. And people are coming to them in faith because they feel the respect. They feel the love.  They don’t feel judgement.

Peace. Education. Nutrition. Shelter. Imagine what we could accomplish working together from a place of respect, moderation, and God’s love-filled peace.

–SueBE

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catalystWhen Pastor Sean told us that he would be sharing the pulpit with a missionary, I cringed. I know that as a Christian I’m supposed to be all gung ho about missionaries and evangelism, but I cringed nonetheless.

Maybe it’s my background in history and anthropology, but when I hear about missionaries I always think “rice bowl Christians.”  In Imperial China, missionaries would come in and offer to feed the poor, but only if they converted. Traditional Chinese called these people “rice bowl Christians” It’s that “I’m right, you’re wrong, I have food, you have hunger” approach to mission that makes me flinch.

Then Sean introduced us to Pastor Juan, the evangelism catalyst for Presbyterian World Mission.

Yeah, I didn’t have any clue what it meant either, so I kept quiet and tried not to draw attention while I listened.  He talked about the Presbyterian Church, as moderates, being invited into Egypt to help create change for the better.

He talked about missionaries going into communities and sitting down and talking to the people.  What are your problems?  What do you need?

He talked about building schools and helping children learn.  He talked about clean water and safe food and housing. His enthusiasm was obvious as he told us about helping people all over the world and in our own communities simply by doing Christ’s work.

Finally, he also talked about people coming to the church.  Yes, they want the education and the water, but they also want to know more about the One who has inspired people to help so much.

The term missionary still makes me cringe.

But the thought of being a Christian catalyst? An agent for change in a troubled world?  That sounds like something I could do.

–SueBE

Something small, even a single cluster of flowers, can have a big impact. (Photo, SueBE, Missouri Botanical Gardens, 2012)

Ever since Lori wrote her post about finding our Mission in life, I’ve been thinking. What is my MISSION? It sounds so big. So important.

The problem is that I don’t feel like I’ve got something this monumental going on. Have I missed my Mission?

Then I saw this quote from Mother Teresa. “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Let me repeat that. Small things with great love. It bears repeating because many of us underestimate the value of these small gestures.

Recently, we had a new singer join our church choir. As talkative as I can be, I am an introvert. When I’m not in the mood for people, I’m really not in the mood. Sadly, her first night there was one of those nights. I’d arrived early, looking forward to a few quite moments, but she was also early. With a sigh that was mostly in my head, I managed to make chit chat and welcome her to the group.

Choir isn’t all work. We take our music more-or-less seriously, but we also love to laugh and are always kidding around about something. In one of these moments, our new singer made eye contact. Should she laugh or shouldn’t she? As soon as we connected, she broke into a huge grin. She was, after all, a part of the group.
All it took was a little chit chat and our usual inability to be serious for very long. None of it huge, but big enough to keep this teen coming back to us on a weekly basis.

Small gestures can mean a lot. And so, I repeat.

“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Small things add up to make a great impact in the lives of those who need to feel God’s love.

–SueBE

The Blues Brothers weren’t the only ones on a mission from God — we all are. The difficulty lies in finding your mission. No one is going to hand it to you in an envelope marked “Top Secret.” The tape will not self-destruct in three, two, one…. You must discover your mission on your own. Well, not exactly alone. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Your job is unlikely to be your mission, though it can be, especially if you are a teacher or doctor or nurse or police officer or firefighter — any profession that serves, often with personal sacrifice as a built-in job requirement. For all the rest of us, our mission is separate from our occupation. So how do we find it? And, perhaps more importantly, why should we care?

Ever feel like there’s more to life than what you’re living? Ever wonder what you were put on Earth to accomplish? That’s where “mission” comes in. Call it a calling. Call it a quest. It gives life meaning, purpose. It gives us a reason to live.

Think of the things that matter most to you. Perhaps your mission is to be a parent. Maybe you’re meant to advance humankind in some way. When it comes to mission, size doesn’t matter. All missions are sacred. And that’s why you’re not alone — God is in it with you. Grace, freely given gift, will guide you to your mission. Only don’t expect a knock on the head. “Mission” demands to be deeply felt. To see what the exterior of your life should look like, you must go interior. Pray, meditate. Feel your way forward.

And don’t expect to see things mapped out for you. Missions must sometimes be taken in baby steps, groping forward bit by bit. As long as we continue to push ourselves forward, we are on the right path. My mission, as I see it, is to move closer to God, to walk with Him through the written word. Gift plus intention equals mission.

So…what is your mission?

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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