The breaking in of the Reign of God
It is today 20 years ago on the 9th of November 1989 that the Berlin wall fell. It is no coincidence that we gather on such an important historical day. We all know that it changed our lives in South Africa significantly. An unfolding of dramatic and fundamental events took place in the follow-up of the breaking down of the Berlin wall, not only in Europe but also in South Africa. The political climate in our country changed significantly and paved the way for FW de Klerk to unban the ANC and political prisoners including Nelson Mandela. The rest is history.
When the Reign of God breaks in it takes us on journeys that we cannot imagine. When the Kingdom of God is near, as Luke 10 teaches us, we can ignore it and in doing that destroying ourselves, or being converted by the event. To be honest who many of us would have received the peace from these 70 other non-ordained, strangers.
After much reflection I think the best way to describe the unfolding story of SAPMC as a journey of people who try to understand where and how God’s reign is breaking in and how we are continuously being converted by the in breaking reign of God.
I want to conclude with 4 conversions that came to my mind while reflecting on the unfolding story of SAPMC
1. Conversion from the church to God…who owns the harvest- the ecclesial conversion
The missional calling is not an ecclesial but a theological vision. It is about God not about the church- it is not a survival of church or growth package, it is about a re-discovering of God. Bosch: Mission is not the task of the church- it is an attribute of God. We have been converted from focusing on our own efforts to a focus on the Missional God who is not only present, but continuously breaking into our reality through the work of the Holy Spirit. This conversion has everything to do with the matter of agency, who is the agent at work and who is participating in that. Our conversion was ‘n discovery that we do not have to bring the energy, it is not about our wisdom, it is not about us, it is about God the primal agent and us invited to participate in what God is up to.
The irony is that the harvest is plentiful. God’s harvest is plentiful, it might be that the harvest of the church is currently small- but if we keep on looking we will discover a harvest waiting for us to be harvest.
2. Conversion from ideas about God towards a journey with God..where he intended to go- the theological conversion
I this not about understanding God, it is about journeying with God while practicing spiritual disiplines. I remember so many theological discussions there we tried to understand, franticly defending our positions, when our experience of what God is doing amongst us do not fit into the existing theological frames. And so it should be, we should continuously been converted from our fixed ideas about God- as if we can ever understand God- towards an new attitude of expecting to be surprised by God.
Note if this attitude change do not happen- we the church, us theologians and dominees and leaders, will remain the stumbling blocks that prevent our faith communities to participate in the coming of the kingdom.
3. Conversion from power to vulnerability- like lambs among wolfs…the personal conversion
Mission was not new to any of us. We all understood that the church should reach out across its boundaries- but it was most of the time a power movement from those who have to those who do not have the hat ever. The missional vision was subversive to that it challenge us to follow Jesus into His vulnablilty- to empty ourselves from the power that we received from the church when we have to plunge and had to be confronted by our unwillingness to interact with people without our power position in the church.
4. Conversion from extraordinary to the ordinary…eating and drinking whatever they provide … the conversion to public life
We stumbled across the habit of dwelling in the world- reflecting on how God is present in our ordinary lives. The irony, wonderful irony, is that the conversion as result of the work of the Spirit is normally not extraordinary but a conversion in the ordinary everyday public life. Over and over we told stories of how we experience the powerful presence of God in our daily lives.
Eating and drinking whatever they provide.
The breaking in of the Reign of God