April 2014 Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ – …..

May grace and peace be yours in abundance (I Peter 1:2a). ….. 

In February I began a series of brief articles on the Marks of a Missional Congregation relying heavily on Stephen P. Bouman’s, The Mission Table: Renewing Congregation & Community (© 2013 Augsburg Fortress).

Each article includes Scripture, questions for reflection and discussion, and a prayer.  Perhaps your church council, adult study, youth group, coffee group will use these monthly writings as a time to engage in learning, discernment and reflection together.  Previous month’s articles are available on the synod website: www.albertasynod.ca

A congregation in mission mentors and trains its leaders.

 Stephen Bouman reads Matthew 14:13-33 as a mentoring story.  Jesus had just heard about the death of John the Baptist and desired to withdraw to a lonely place to absorb the news and to grieve.  At the intersection of his grief and the daily crush of the crowds, Jesus had compassion and listened to the people and healed their sick.  Then as evening came and the hunger of a long day took hold of the crowd, Jesus set a table and mentored his disciples.  “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16), seizing on this teaching moment.  He set a table in the tension of scarcity and abundance; he received the gifts of loaves and fish; and his words and example mentored.  Attend to their great hunger of body and soul and also their giftedness.

Then it was night.  “He made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.  When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:22-23).  Attend to silence; to prayer.

Then, “early in the morning” (Matthew 14:25), literally ‘the fourth watch’ of the night, between 3:00 and 6:00 am, a time when all we fear, can’t see, and can’t control is running amuck;  imagine we are with the disciples in the roiling water with wind in our faces.  Imagine Jesus, walking on water, moving toward us.

Peter wants to leave the boat and move toward Jesus.  And Jesus; mentoring, teaching; invites Peter out of the safety of the boat with one word, “Come.”

 “A missional congregation invests in leaders and has a plan for leadership development….Who is inviting the next generations of the church’s and community’s spiritual seekers and leaders out of the boat these days?…Is your church a place that represents the safety of the boat or the scary, exhilarating invitation to walk on water?” (Bouman, page 43)

Jesus said to Peter, “Come.”

Read and Reflect: Matthew 14:13-33

Discuss and Reflect:

  1. What in this reading leads you to say, “I wonder about…?”, or, “I noticed…?”
  2. Share an experience of being mentored or coached into a new skill or a new role.
  3. Is your church a place that represents the safety of the boat or the scary, exhilarating invitation to walk on water?”
  4. How does your community of faith mentor people of all ages to help them develop a new skill or take on a new role?

Pray together: Into your hands, almighty God, we place ourselves: our minds to know you, our

hearts to love you, our wills to serve you, for we are yours.  Into your hands, incarnate Saviour, we place ourselves: receive us and draw us after you, that we may follow your steps; abide in us and enliven us by the power of your indwelling .  Into your hands, O hovering Spirit, we place ourselves: take us and fashion us after your image; let your comfort strengthen, your grace renew, and your fire cleanse us, soul and body, in life and in death, in this world of shadows and in your changeless world of light eternal, now and forever.   Amen. (Commitment, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 86)

The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

In Christ Jesus –

The Rev. Dr. Larry Kochendorfer, Bishop
Synod of Alberta and the Territories
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada