EVERY ONCE IN a while, at a conference or a small group discussion, questions are raised that grab our attention in such a way that we think about them long after the moment. That has been my experience after having attended a conference on Mutual Responsibility and Mission in the Americas in February in San Jose, Costa Rica. Delegates gathered from North, Central and South America. The theme was, “A Different World is Possible, Urgent, and Necessary.”
In a keynote address, Rev. John Kafwanka, Anglican Communion research project officer for mission and evangelism, reminded us that “current tensions within the Communion jeopardize our capacity for bold and courageous commitment to mission.” He made a moving appeal for us to nurture companionship in mission for the sake of the world.
Every day began with Bible study from texts in the Acts of the Apostles. On day one, we reflected on the prayer of the disciples and the women who had gathered in the Upper Room, anticipating the fulfilment of the risen Lord’s promised gift of the Holy Spirit. We were challenged to ponder the question, “What place does prayer have in my life, my parish, my church?”
On day two, we reflected on Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost and we were challenged to consider the question, “What’s the focus of our preaching?” On day three, we reflected on the famous text which gives us a glimpse of the early Christian community – “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and the prayers…All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need (Acts 2: 42, 44 – 45).”
We were then challenged by two questions, “Have we invested more in internal and religious affairs, or in service to restore people’s lives and influence the transformation of society?” and, “Is our agenda tied to the church, or do we truly take on the urgent agenda of building a different world?”
These questions are hard but timely. In our calling to be the body of Christ, salt for the earth, and light for the world, they deserve our full attention.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.