This is my fourth(and Lord willing, final) Moore College Mission. In spite of the usual feelings of trepidation that come with being somewhere new, it is an exciting time. Over the last three missions I’ve been part of, I’ve had the privilege to see lots of different, often innovative means used by churches to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have loved learning from these churches during mission, and then applying what I’ve learnt the 51 weeks of the year that I’m on mission elsewhere. Each church has been different, and the demographics of their parish have also differed. But each one had been committed to labouring hard in gospel ministry in the power of Christ’s Spirit.
And Gymea Anglican is no exception. Even after one day here, it’s clear that the church is on for winning their suburb for Christ. Today the team was able to join with the church in giving thanks for the service given to the local community by emergency personal – Rescue Sunday. With representatives from several agencies – NSW Police, NSW Fire and Rescue, NSW Ambulance, SES, RFS, Anglicare Disaster Recovery, Surf Life saving, and Sutherland Hospital Chaplaincy – along with the local MP for Miranda, it was a marvellous opportunity to give thanks to God for his preservation of his world through the service of these women and men. And church felt like the obvious place for such an occasion. Rescue Sunday was a natural extension of those regular prayers for those in authority, for peace and the good ordering of society. What quickly become apparent was that Gymea Anglican has been able hold Rescue Sunday for a number of year now because they have cultivated relationships with the local community, and shown themselves to be on for the community. The church has been out there among the community. They have real relationships with the people of Gymea. That is the first lesson I took from today – being on for the local community involves being in the local community.
The second lesson is related to the first. It’s all about the purpose – or the telos as we learn at college. What is the point? As we honoured the service of those men and women who help us, often in our times of need, we heard of Christ’s service to us when were in utmost need. We’re on for the local community because we want the every man, woman, and child to know and love Jesus. We believe he is God’s salve to the wounds of all people, bringing reconciliation and renewal where there is dysfunction and disorder. Jesus brings peace and forgiveness to lives marred by sin. He is our health, when we ourselves have no health in us. As Simon (4th year) preached on God’s astonishing gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ from Romans 6:23, our prayer was that the people of Gymea would also taste the gift of life rather than the deathly wages of sin. We’re on for the local community – our family, neighbours, and friends – because we’re on for them hearing the gospel and being one for Christ. As we gave thanks for the work of our emergency and rescue services, what a wonderful thing it was to share the good news and give the thanks of our hearts to God for the greatest rescue in Jesus Christ.
When I return home, how will I look to build genuine relationships with my local community, that I might see some won for Christ? I’m looking forward to more lessons from Gymea this week!