Luke 4.14-21 Our part in the Mission of Jesus: our Mission Action Plan (pMAP)
by Revd Amanda Denniss
Jesus was sent by God the Father to us with a mission and a plan. Jesus’ mission was to invite every single person into a close and loving relationship with God. His invitation to us is to become part of God’s family. To become a son. To become a daughter. It was an invitation into a relationship which would transform our lives, transform our personal relationships, transform our societies. Our bible reading from chapter 4 of Luke’s gospel is Jesus’ Mission Action Plan. Jesus is at the beginning of his public ministry and he sets out how he is going to accomplish his mission. At the end of Jesus’ time on earth, after his death and resurrection, Jesus commissioned his disciples to continue his mission. He commissions us to invite people into a close and loving relationship with God. To become part of God’s family.
Here in Itchen Valley, we have been praying and planning about how Jesus is calling us to join in with his mission in our local community. We have produced our own Mission Action Plan (pMAP) and we’re going to look at how each of us can become involved in the plans of Jesus.
- The Mission Plan of Jesus At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, Luke tells us that one Sabbath day, Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and stood up to read from the scriptures. Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, read a passage from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah had prophesied about a Messiah who would be sent by God. This Messiah would bring freedom from oppression. Jesus said:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
When Jesus had finished reading, he sat down and said, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ The word ‘Today’ is important. The people listening to Jesus did not doubt that God’s kingdom would come some day. Some time in the future. But Jesus was claiming that God was acting now in the person and the work of Jesus.
What was Jesus going to do in the power of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus was going to preach good news to the poor. Jesus went from place to place proclaiming the good news that though trusting in as him Lord and Saviour a person could become part of God’s family. A beloved son. A beloved daughter.
Who are the poor? The poor certainly included the economically poor. The bible tells us again and again of God’s heart for the poor and the marginalized in our world. But the poor also include everybody who is living a life outside God’s family. Jesus says in his letter to the church in the very prosperous city of Laodicea in chapter 3 of the book of Revelation, ‘You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.’ Jesus doesn’t look at the how we look on the surface. However wealthy we are. However successful. Jesus knows that without relationship with him, however good we may look on the outside, we are actually very poor. Jesus came to preach the good news of relationship with God through him to everybody
- Jesus came to preach good news to the broken hearted. Jesus sees our hearts when we mourn and he brings comfort as we turn to him and find healing.
- Jesus came to proclaim freedom for the prisoners. Many, many of us are captives to patterns of behaviour and thinking that are like being bound in chains. This may be addictions to things like alcohol, or drugs or pornography. It may be less obvious things like anger, unforgiveness and bitterness, jealousy, insecurity. Jesus can set us free from these chains that bind us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus came to give recovery of sight to the blind. Jesus came to restore us to wholeness. This includes physical wholeness. We see this in all the healing miracles of Jesus. It includes wholeness in healthy relationships. It also includes having our eyes opened to see the truth of who Jesus is. Without the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are blind to the good news of Jesus.
Over the three years of Jesus’ public ministry we see Jesus going from place to place acting out this mission plan. We see Jesus training his disciples to join with him in his mission. Then after Jesus’ death and resurrection we see Jesus commissioning his disciples to carry on his mission in what we know as the Great Commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel. At the beginning of Acts we see the disciples filled with the Holy Spirit to empower them to carry on Jesus’ mission.
If we know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour it is because the baton of joining in with the mission plan of Jesus has been handed down through the generations.
- It is now our turn to join in with Jesus’ mission plan. To pass the baton on. To proclaim the good news that everyone can become part of God’s family through relationship with Jesus.
What does this mean in practice? The diocese of Winchester has set four Strategic Priorities for Mission (for short SP’s 1-4) which set out how the diocese is planning to join in with the Mission Plan of Jesus over the next three years. We have been praying and putting together our response to these priorities in a plan which was approved by the PCC and then submitted to the Diocese in November last year. I’m hoping that you’ve all been handed a leaflet which we’ve put together which summarises our Mission Action Plan (pMAP) We are going to put it on our website. This plan doesn’t include all we do as a church, but it does set out our priorities over the next three years.
I’d like to look at it with you briefly this morning.
Strategic Priority One We grow authentic disciples. This priority is about investing in our relationship with God so that our own faith grows and is strengthened. We hope that as we experience more of God at work in our everyday lives, we will grow in confidence in sharing our faith with others.
One of the ways in we will do this is by running discipleship courses. There are two which are coming up the next few months.
- We agreed at the PCC last week that we will run a Lent Course on Sunday evenings in place of the normal evening services. This course will include looking at how we can practice and speak about our faith in our everyday lives. We will have a short talk and the opportunity to discuss the topics.
- After Easter we are planning to run a discipleship course which will look at some of the common questions that people have about the Christian faith. Things like:
- Is there any solid evidence for our faith?
- What about evil and suffering?
- Do all paths lead to God?
I hope as many people as possible in our church will join in with these courses.
Strategic Priority Two We reimagine church. The thrust of this priority is to connect with people who are not well represented in our churches. It will involve looking at introducing ways of worship that are true to the gospel but are able to connect with our rapidly changing culture.
We want to continue to value and cherish our existing congregation and to strengthen our relationships with all who live and work in our community. Over the next year our particular focus will be on improving our connection with families and young people.
We have begun this by carrying out a consultation with some of the families that we already have contact with. We have already begun to develop the All Age service with the aim of involving families more in the services. We have also agreed this week at PCC to start a new informal afternoon service for families which will initially be about four times year.
Strategic Priority Three Social Transformation The aim of this priority is to see God’s kingdom come through prayer and practical influence in all of society both here and abroad.
As I mentioned in my talk to the APCM when I first became rector, we would like to begin small discipleship groups where a group of up to twelve people meet regularly for prayer, bible study, friendship and support. Each group would also have an outward focus. This outward focus could be one of a wide range of things. Examples might include:
- Social action eg supporting the night shelter
- Providing for the elderly
- Supporting one another to live as Christians in the workplace
- Supporting young families at the local schools
- Caring for neighbours
We are also planning a pattern of weekly prayer meetings to pray for our church and local community and to underpin our practical response to the needs of the community.
Our plans include:
- A new Midday Prayer at 12noon on Monday to replace the existing Midweek prayer. This will rotate between the four churches i.e. it will be in each church once a month. There will be a short liturgy.
- An informal prayer meeting on Tuesday mornings at St John’s. This will be earlier-probably at 9am-to enable parents to come along after droping off their children at school.
We are planning to start this new pattern of prayer after half term. If you are available in the day time, please do consider coming along to one or both of these times of prayer.
Strategic Priority Four Stewardship and generous giving
This priority is about being good stewards of all that God has given us and being a people who give generously.
For us in Itchen Valley, there is a need to increase our regular giving to match our running costs, so as to reduce our financial reliance on fundraising.
We recognise the importance to the life of the community of the fundraising events, but we would like to reduce our reliance on these for our regular outgoings. David Anderson, our treasurer and I are going to be speaking on this important area of our discipleship during Lent. (Sunday 28th February)
Jesus was sent by God the Father to us with a mission and a plan. Jesus’ mission was to invite every single person into a close and loving relationship with God. It was an invitation into a relationship which would transform our lives, transform our personal relationships, transform our society. Jesus is calling us to join in with his mission in our local community.
We are doing this in many ways already with things like:
- CAMEO which reaches out with God’s love to the older people in our community
- Little Rainbows which reaches out to parents and carers and young children
- Free to Be which reaches out to those of us with mental health problems
Our Parish Mission Action Plan (pMAP) sets out our church’s priorities for joining in with the mission of Jesus to our local community over the next three years.
It is a plan to pick up the baton of the gospel. To grow and deepen our own faith. To grow as a church in reaching out to our local community and beyond with the practical love of Jesus. To pass the baton of the gospel on to the next generations.