Summary: The main theme is mission, realistic mission as it might look today in a small church - it might be hard but not impossible (Also particularly suitable for Trinity Sunday).
This morning I’m going to be speaking to you about mission.
I wonder what you think of when you hear the word mission?
Perhaps it’s the films called “Mission Impossible”, or the earlier television series of the same name.
Maybe we think of companies or worldwide organizations that have mission statements.
It seems to be quite fashionable these days to have a mission statement.
All the big high street shops are getting in on the act, and all this is before we get into what the church understands by the term mission.
If you have a look around the Internet at various church web sites you can find all kinds of different mission statements.
Here are just a few examples from churches in the UK.
Strong in the Spirit to win and nurture disciples (South Parade Baptist Church, Leeds)
Aim - To see God honoured
Essentials - The Bible and prayer
Tasks - Reach out to non-believers, build up Christians, send out Christian workers (St. Ebbes, Oxford)
The ministry of this evangelical church is centred upon Biblical teaching and exposition within a parish context but with an emphasis on outreach locally, nationally and internationally. (Christ Church Fulwood, Sheffield)
Okay, those are the mission statements of some other churches, but what is our mission here all about?
Well, in a nutshell, it’s the way in which we tell people the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The mission statement of the early church is found in the words of Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel.
’Therefore, go 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 I have commanded you.’ (Matt. 28:19-20)
This is the plan that Jesus laid out for telling people that God so loved this world and all in it that He gave His One and only Son that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life.
I am sure that we know where that comes from – of course it’s the famous John 3:16!
We might know it in our heads, but do we all believe it in our hearts?
Have we all made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour?
Hopefully now we all know what we mean by the word mission.
The next question then, is, “Who is it for?”
It’s very easy to say it’s for those missionaries out there in Africa, the Middle East or India.
That’s true, but it’s also the task of all Christians everywhere.
Those very challenging words at the end of Matthew’s Gospel are for each and every one of us to carry out in the way that God shows us.
Every nation includes this one.
There are many practical ways that we can fulfil this.
We can tell our friends and family about Jesus, and what He has done for them and for us, which is good, but must be backed up by actions.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to live a life of discipleship with Jesus that shows His presence in our lives and His love working within us, and the difference that He has made.
We can also continue to support others in their missionary task by praying for them and for God’s work that He has entrusted to them.
There are so many missionary agencies these days that it would be so easy to simply be overwhelmed, and end up not supporting any.
Instead we are better to focus in on praying for a few missionaries that we have some knowledge of.
Turning to our passage this morning from the prophet Isaiah.
This is the story of Isaiah’s calling, and is probably one of the most well-known parts of the book of Isaiah.
Isaiah is writing at a very dark time in the history of Israel, when a good king, Uziah, has just died, and the future looks rather bleak.
At this time, Isaiah had a vision.
This is not just any old vision, rare enough as they may be.
This was a vision of heaven, a vision of God and His great throne room.
The Apostle John had similar visions many years later that he has recorded for us in the book of Revelation.
As I read these kinds of visions I can’t help feeling very happy inside.
When we consider what this world is currently like, with all its violence, lies and self-centredness, these visions come as a beautiful reminder of what awaits us when we die.
How can we be afraid when we know that we will spend eternity in the intimate presence of God?
That is such a joyous and beautiful thing to look forward to.
It’s this kind of future hope that the early Methodists had, that prompted John Wesley to say that ’our people die well’.