And Jesus came and said to them [the eleven disciples], “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20)
The 2019 Year of Scripture Daily Reading Schedule has led us into the New Testament. By now, you should be close to finishing the Gospel of Matthew.
At our Fall Gatherings, I have been inviting us to consider that Jesus commissions His followers to be a “Sent Church”, and not a “Settled Church”. Think about the difference between being “sent” and being “settled”. Are there places in the life of your parish where the Holy Spirit is stirring things up and sending folks out? Or are things mainly staid and settled? And how might we make the shift from “settled” to “sent”? Over the next few weeks, I want to explore how each of the Evangelists (Gospel writers) depicts the “charge” of the church after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
The Gospel of Matthew ends with the Great Commission. The Crucified and Risen Jesus gathers with the eleven disciples in Galilee. There, at the top of a mountain (think “New Moses”), Jesus commissions them to: go, make disciples, baptize, and teach. Considering the Great Commission please ponder the following questions:
How does your parish “go” outside the four walls of your place of worship?
How have you intentionally focused on “making disciples”? Notice Jesus never says, “Go and make members?” For that matter what’s the difference between a disciple and a member?
How does your parish prepare candidates for baptism? What might you do to help the newly baptized live out their baptismal promises? See page 228 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship.
In what ways is your parish teaching folks to pray, reflect on Scripture, and engage in other spiritual practices? How are you teaching new and young followers of Jesus the basics of the Christian faith?
These are challenging questions, and thanks be to God that we’re not required to answer them alone. We go, make disciples, baptize, and teach, as a part of the community of faith. And we always do God’s work best when we do it together, with the people of God… and with the presence of God. For as Jesus reminds us at the end of the Great Commission,
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).