I have a confession to make: I love the Olympics! But I do mourn the cost of human displacement and environmental degradation. I am angered by the immense resources put into temporary facilities while the permanent needs of local communities are ignored. Still, I await the opening ceremonies with a child-like anticipation and I struggle to reconcile these feelings.
Last week, an op ed in The New York Times captured the spirit of these tremendous athletes. “In a world rife with failure and bitter compromise, they’re dedicated to dreaming and to the proposition that limits are entirely negotiable, because they reflect only what has been done to date and not what’s doable in time.” And then it hit me, maybe I love the Olympics for the same reason I believe in mission.
Theologians Steve Bevans, SVD and Roger Schroeder, SVD write that, “God is Mission. Not that God has a Mission, but that God is Mission.” They write, “This is what God is in God’s deepest self: self-diffusive love, freely creating, redeeming, healing, challenging that creation,” and that we are invited, to partner in that creating, redeeming and healing work. What we know of God, then, informs how we understand mission.
Our world is broken, marked by violence and systems of oppression that strip humanity of its very dignity. But God came to dwell with us in a similarly broken and hurting world, and, by becoming human, revealed that everything is doable in time. Throughout scripture, we see Jesus negotiating the limits of the human world and instructing us to do the same. He stands in the synagogue and proclaims this mission using the Prophet Isaiah’s words:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And, Jesus lives this proclamation through his ministry. He dares to touch and heal the “outcast” and boldly forgives the “undeserving”. He challenges traditional barriers of class, race and gender, transforming them into bridges that bring him closer to those in need. In his being and doing, Jesus reveals God’s dream and promise for our world - a people healed and whole.
This is God’s mission and that mission has us. This fall, 30+ missioners will travel to Bolivia on one of our four distinct mission trips. And yet this is only a small part of our community. We are all a part of this mission.
We are one - Somos uno
Each of us at Solidarity Bridge is called to dream and believe that what has been done to date does not limit what is doable in time. This happens when doctors and nurses from the U.S. and Bolivia work side-by-side, learning from one another and building relationships of mutuality. This happens when medical equipment, formerly abundant in one place and scarce in another, is redistributed more justly. This happens when lives are saved and families transformed through the gift of surgery. This happens when we, the communities of Solidarity Bridge and Puente de Solidaridad, strive to live the conviction that, as a human family, we are one - somos uno.
I frequently read Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s children’s book God’s Dream to my own two children. Through vibrant images, Tutu describes his vision of God’s dream- a vision of love, acceptance, forgiveness and justice. I love imagining with my children what God dreams for them and for their world. As a mission organization, we ask the same questions. What does God dream for us and for our world? And, how do we, partners in this dream, negotiate the limits of our current world to bring that dream to life?
Since the earliest Christian community, mission has been understood in various ways. Different models of mission have been developed in response to the changing needs of the world and evolving understandings of church and theology. In the coming months, we will further explore some of these models. Subscribe to our blog, join us on this journey and receive each update direct to your inbox. God's dream is our mission, and we are called to partner with God in creating and nurturing that dream.