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#73 Mission for Christ

Summary:

Parishes across the country will host their annual festivals and offer great food, music, and dancing to their neighbors.  We also have something even more amazing to offer: Christ and the Good News of salvation.   

Since Pentecost, the Church has been on a mission joyful preaching the Gospel.  This missionary work isn't only for far away places, it belongs in our neighborhoods and parishes.  And our parish festivals are a great place to start. 

Questions:

As you watch the episode, consider:

1. What is the mission of the Church?  What does it mean to be a missionary of the Church?

2. While Church festivals are a great way for a community to come together, what is the most important factor to all of this?  What is central to all of this?  

3. Does being a missionary mean only going to other countries to preach the Gospel?  How can you be a missionary of the Church right in your own neighborhood?

4. When you bring your friends to your parish festivals, how can you bring Christ to them?

Check out these model lesson plans / retreat sessions for JOY and GOYA!

Links:

And here are some articles you may find to be helpful:

1. Bible Gateway, Matthew 28:19

2. Orthodox Christian Mission Center

3. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Department of Outreach and Evangelism

4. OrthodoxWiki, Saint Thomas the Apostle

5. OrthodoxWiki, Saints Cyril and Methodius

6. OrthodoxWiki, Saint Innocent of Alaska

7. OrthodoxWiki, Saint Raphael of Brooklyn

Script:

Hey everybody this is Steve and, as the weather warms up, Orthodox parishes start throwing some amazing parties.  Parishes across the country will be hosting their annual festivals, offering delicious

food and great music and dancing to hundreds of thousands of people.  But we have something to offer that’s even more amazing than the best baklava.  And if we take a look at the incredible day of Pentecost as it's described in the Book of Acts, we'll see that the Church has been offering this amazing gift from the very beginning. 

We celebrate Pentecost 50 days after we celebrate Christ's Resurrection.  It's one of the most important feast days of the Church, the day the Holy Spirit descended on Christ's assembled disciples and did something amazing.  While the limits of our nature result in division, the Holy Spirit allows us to transcend that and be truly united in Christ.  As Metropolitan John of Pergamon writes, "The life the Holy Spirit gives us is not divided, but all at once, so for the first time we may live knowing that all Christians, past, present and future are present to us, in a communion not delimited by space and time."

The Holy Spirit overcomes the divisions that tear us and the world apart, bringing us together as the Body of Christ.  We see this clearly on Pentecost because, when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, they were suddenly able to speak and be understood by everyone present.  While language difference can be an obstacle that divides us, and prevents us from truly uniting and communing with each other, the Holy Spirit overcomes that.  And that's what allowed St Peter to preach the Gospel to everyone in the area, no matter what language they spoke.  According to Acts, three thousand people became members of the Church that day!

This is the work of the Church, not to jealously hide the light of Christ but to share it with one and all, to truly be the light of the world.  That's what we see in the Church from the very beginning, from St Peter's sermon on Pentecost to the travels and preaching of the Apostles, right down to the missionary work that's happening today.  In all these things, the Holy Spirit is at work to overcome divisions and share the light of Christ with everyone, regardless of who they are.  And the Holy Spirit invites us, to join in that same mission.  This missionary life is not just something we do, it's essential to who we are: as Christians, as the Church, for as long as we've been the Church. 

As we read at the end of the Gospel according to St Matthew, Christ gave the disciples a clear command: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  Church history is full of incredible people who did just that.  People who preached the Gospel to everyone they met, who introduced them to Christ.  People who shared the Good News that God has become man and defeated death by death, granting us eternal life.  I mean, when we read about Christ healing people in the Gospel accounts, for instance, their first instinct is to normally go and tell others about Christ.  Later St Thomas travelled all the way to India to preach the Word, Sts Cyril and Methodios even created a new alphabet so they could preach to the Slavs.  And more recently, St Innocent of Alaska travelled thousands of miles by canoe, and St Raphael of Brooklyn travelled across North America, preaching and celebrating the Liturgy and establishing 30 parishes. 

To be a Christian is to be on a mission. And this mission isn t just something that happened in the past.  At this very moment, there are missionaries all over the world, preaching the Gospel in places like Albania, where, until recently, religion used to be illegal, or places like Kenya, where there are still areas where people have never heard of Jesus Christ.  And we should remember that this missionary life doesn't simply belong in far-away places.  It belongs in our cities, our neighborhoods, in the everyday life of our parishes.  In fact, our parish festivals are a great opportunity to share the Gospel.  As we offer people food and music and dancing, we can (and should) offer them Christ.  We can make books and icons and prayer ropes available to our guests.  We can offer Church tours and, even better, schedule services so people can experience the Faith when they visit. 

As the Church, the Body of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit, we're not limited by the things that normally divide us.  We're not simply a Greek Church or a Russian Church.  We are the one, holy, Catholic, and

Apostolic Church.  We are the Body of Christ, and we bear the best news of all: the Good News of salvation.  Hundreds of thousands of people will visit parish festivals and have a taste of the wonderful culture we have to offer.  But lets not forget that we can give people something even more incredible, something not just life-changing but life-giving: An introduction to Christ and the Gospel, a taste of the Kingdom of God. 

So let's Be the Bee, and be on a mission for Christ. Be the Bee, and Live Orthodoxy.  Remember to like, subscribe, and share.  I'll see you all next week.

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