“Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”

My inspiration for mission and evangelism, before I was even aware that that was what it was, is in hearing the blessing “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”.

Hearing that blessing fills me with a warmth, an excitement, and encourages me to carry the presence of Christ into the world.

I try to achieve this by loving and serving God with all my heart and soul through prayer, reflection and worship, aware that the transforming touch of God needs to come from within.

I try to demonstrate that I can love my neighbours by treating them with love and respect. This could be through the simple act of taking time to talk with an elderly parishioner after a service, through the act of friendship, being someone to listen, being welcomed by those who are lonely, or making a phone call to check in with someone who has been struggling with illness or family breakdown. I try to actively proclaim the Gospel and the Good News of God’s love for all by using encouraging words and by physically demonstrating, through positive actions, that I am nurturing God’s love in others.

Praying for people seems such an obvious start, but it is easy to overlook, and I have a list of people who I pray for regularly. While I worked for CWR, our prayer partners prayed for each member of staff on set days of the month, for us personally, for our role in the organisation, for our families and that we would use our individual gifts to work for God. The knowledge that 300+ people I may never meet were diligently praying for me brought an overwhelming feeling of strength and comfort. It inspired me to try to live up to their expectations, to be a better person, a more diligent Christian.

At times of darkness in my life, prayer and the prayers of others have help me to feel that I was never alone. The Bible tells us in many verses but specifically in Psalm 23, that we do not walk alone, and that even in times of darkness God is ever present.

Pastoral care and chaplaincy allow me the privilege of walking a journey with those who need encouragement or understanding by helping them to find the light in the darkness.

Nothing can replace basic pastoral ministry in getting to know the people God has put in your path, learning to love and cherish them, to listen them and to help them slowly discover what God’s plan is in their life.

In my current role working with 16 to 25-year-olds predominantly coming out of the care system I enjoy helping them to remove the labels that society has placed on them by helping them to see that they are loved, and are able to be a valued part of the world in their own right.

Building trust and being an example of a disciple is an important part of this. This trust is built by providing a listening ear, by making a cup of tea or being the one who accompanies them to doctors’ appointments, who cheers when they achieve something – this might all appear simple to others, but it is an enormous step forward to someone with a mental health issue, for example.

The privilege of this role is when a young person will ask for prayer or for me to explain a why I am a Christian. By being a consistent reminder to them of the nurturing nature of Jesus Christ, I feel I can work to bring peace and reconciliation to areas of society that have become despondent and to those who find themselves without hope.

It takes at times a brazen nerve to approach people who don’t want to interact, who are wary of changes and who are frightened to put their head above the parapet. It has involved taking small steps, allowing confidence both in myself and their abilities to grow, but if I am willing to take this step of faith I am assured that God moves mountains to encourage and strengthen those I move amongst.

The world and the church both face many challenges, and the next generation will need the church and the love that it offers the community in ways we cannot comprehend. To allow this to happen we must look out into our communities and play active parts in creating God’s kingdom here on earth by showing love in action.

Worship on a Sunday should inspire us with prayer and liturgy, yet it also alerts us to our responsibilities as Christians to encourage the wider world to engage with and become involved with all manner of mission, and to go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

 

 

 

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