The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead
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Online 10.30 Service      14th June 2020
What's Our Mission Soundbite?
Jeremy Fletcher

Romans 5. 1 - 8
Matthew 9. 35 - 10. 8

I enjoy the soundbites organisations make about themselves, like the haulage company which proclaims it delivers ‘nationwide logistics infrastructure solutions’. Churches do it too: my total favourite was one near Doncaster who produced a car sticker which said: ‘I go to Barnby Dun Church. God knows why’.
How about this for a mission soundbite? ‘We boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us’
That’s from Romans 5.
Or how about this? ‘You received without payment. Give without payment…I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves…you will be dragged before governors and kings…you will be hated by all because of my name’. That’s from Matthew 10. 
Having been called to be apostles, those who have a message which they must deliver, Jesus spells out what the consequences of their mission will be. If I have been reviled, so will you be. If I am attacked, so will you be. 
But, in the middle of that attack you will find the Holy Spirit, poured into your hearts, and in enduring you will be saved.
Jesus sent his followers out into complex and dangerous times and places. He sent them out to reap a harvest:  the harvest of the end of time, the final reckoning when everyone would be gathered in and final judgments made about the state of the crop. 
Jesus’s challenge to his followers was that there was every opportunity to bring the kingdom of god to their generation, and every reason to believe that the call to follow would be heard. 
Just because that was 2000 years ago does not diminish the urgency of the call today. People have one life, and the good news of the kingdom of god needs to brought near to them. If not by us, then by whom? If not you, then who? 
We have a message of challenge and hope to offer in dangerous and vital times. We are not promised an easy ride. But if this Gospel is true then the suffering and complexity will be worth it. 
Jesus sees the need of the crowds and has compassion on them. He calls the twelve to share in the work. He gives them a mission, and gives them a context. 
We have our own call to compassion, to justice, to redemption and renewal. People have suffered in these lock down days. The mattering of black lives, of the lives of all who are oppressed and discriminated against, is front and centre today as well. In this we have a message of repentance, justice and hope. 
We are here because we ourselves have responded to the call of Christ. How will other people respond if we don’t tell them? That’s not a bad mission statement to live by. Working out how to carry it out will be our duty and our joy. Amen. 
Amen.

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