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Reflections from An Ordinary Missionary: Thoughts on Pentecost, Missional Presence, and Ordinary Time.


Pentecost, Ordinary Time,  Missional Presence
Pentecost, Ordinary Time

Confession: I always wince just a little when I hear someone refer to me as a missionary. Maybe that's a shocker, maybe you're laughing because you know me and aren't surprised. But it always leaves me a little squirmy.


I'm sure there's a lot to unpack with this confession, pulling back multiple layers—but if I dug down deep to the source, I would have to admit it's because of the way I term and define mission/missionary.


And....let's also be real. I'm extraordinarily normal. Uniquely made, of course. With many talents, you bet. But I also still struggle with normal everyday things: waking up early, being consistent, drinking too much coffee, getting tired of doing the dishes or laundry, being impatient with my husband, child, dog, and traffic... I mean, the list could go on. So being termed something that feels so "grand" just feels off sometimes because the everyday realities of my life don't always feel grand. The reality is that they are not very grand at all, but extremely normal.


Yet, here I am—living in Costa Rica, trying my best to love God and reflect Jesus as a "missionary." But if I could write anything to you or give any video/speaking update to our family, friends, and supporters from afar, it would be this:


Your location does not limit your

missional presence to this broken world.



I believe that to live missionally, we must embrace the power of the Holy Spirit and the sacredness of normal every day rhythms and routines. We should not let the lie that our ordinary life does not have Kingdom Impact.


Here is what I've been learning from our recent celebration of Pentecost Sunday and our Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar:


#1: What is the significance of Pentecost?

#2: How do I define Missional Presence and why has it brough so much freedom to my life?

#3: What is Ordinary Time and how is it significant to my life?


 

#1: What is the significance of Pentecost?


Pentecost Sunday marks the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, as described in Acts 2 of the New Testament. For Christian traditions that follow the Church calendar, this Sunday was just recently celebrated. Traditionally, the Sunday falls 50 days after Easter ( In the Christian tradition, Pentecost comes 50 days after Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. The term "Pentecost" itself comes from the Greek word "Pentēkostē," meaning "fiftieth.") and utilizes the color red to signify the "fire of the Holy Spirit".


It's a beautiful Sunday to reflect on the scriptures found in Acts 2. All that Jesus promised about sending a Helper who would now dwell in us was fulfilled. God empowered His people, and the early Church was birthed. As I've been reflecting on this profound truth ( the idea that the God of the universe not only humbled Himself to live among us, but then left Himself to empower His people.... amazing), I've been struck at the correlation author and pastor Eugene Peterson made about this. He states:


God gave us the miracle of congregation the same way he gave us the miracle of Jesus, by the Descent of the Dove. The Holy Spirit descended into the womb of Mary in the Galilean village of Nazareth. Thirty or so years later the same Holy Spirit descended into the collective spiritual womb of men and women, which included Mary, who had been followers of Jesus....The first conception gave us Jesus; the second gave us the Church.*

Just like God promised to send a Messiah, He promised to send us the Holy Spirit and watch as "greater things than this" would unfold in the life of His people. The fact that these men and women were in a locked room, hiding, waiting, expecting brings me great comfort. They were extraordinarily normal. They had walked with Jesus, watched Him be crucified, lost faith and doubted, were restored and amazed when the resurrection happened, and now... here they are again, after Jesus has left. They sit with His promises but with no road map or clear way forward. Honestly, this sounds a lot like my spiritual journey sometimes. I often pray "God, I know your character- your promises- your Word- yet... I'm waiting, watching, expecting.. and life is still confusing, hard, scary, and the way forward is unknown".


How amazing that our God still would invite me and you into His grand story despite our short comings and complete understanding of His plans. This is the power and mystery of what happened on the Day of Pentecost. And that day still lives on. The Church was birthed, Peter - the man who denied Christ three times went on to preach one heck of sermon- and God moved.


Pentecost Sunday helps remind my heart that what happened 2000ish years ago has meaning to my life today. God's Holy Spirit dwells in extraordinarily normal, broken people. As we surrender and yield to all the fruits of His Spirit, we can't help but see our world restored and changed. God's faithfulness to His people and His Church.


#2: How do I define Missional Presence and why has it brought so much freedom to my life?


In light of the amazing truth that God's Holy Spirit now dwells in, equips, and empowers His people, our way of life has taken on new meaning. I must say that God's presence in me alone is sufficient. Why should I separate "mission" from my "being"? For me, they are one and the same.


Missional presence, to me, means that wherever we go throughout our day, whomever we encounter, and whatever task we undertake, all have meaning and significance in God's Kingdom. I have His Spirit in me at all times. This has brought me much peace and relief. I do not feel the need to perform or deliver results when it comes to God's Kingdom. As much as I'd love to report impressive statistics and numbers to all our supporters and friends, I won't because we measure success in God's Kingdom by faithfulness to Him. We are called to steward what God has entrusted to us, being faithful in both small and large matters, because both are important.


Missional presence means that I cannot rank or order what is impactful. My encounter with my local barista in the mornings can be just as meaningful as when I lead and share in a Bible study group. A quick conversation on our airplane traveling back and forth from the States can be just as impactful as my daily prayer for my daughter. Choosing to love Todd, seek forgiveness, and do the hard work of my internal life and heart is just as impactful as listening and sharing the Gospel to someone I've been praying for.


The metric has simply changed: are you being faithful to what God has called you to, and are you aware of His presence in you?



#3: What is Ordinary Time and how is it significant for me?


As we move into Ordinary Time within the Church calendar, the truths celebrated in Easter and Pentecost Sunday prepare me for a missional life, similar to the early Church. For those who are not aware, Ordinary Time refers to the periods in the Church calendar outside the major liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. It focuses on the growth and life of the Church. Technically, we will be in Ordinary Time until Advent, which is a long season of extraordinary normal things.


Just as those in the early church lived life around a table, sharing the gospel in their work areas, devoting themselves to prayer, communion, and baptizing those who joined their numbers - life happened! And life is happening and I believe and expect it to happen in the coming months. I can lean into with great expectation a deepening of His Church. Growth and life- restoration - redemption - but also laughing, crying, greiving, hardship, pain and suffering. Because that is all part of being Human.


Yet, we have the incredible promise of God's presence. Living in us- equpping and guiding us. Convicting us where we need to grow in love (which takes times for interior examination) and also spurring us to get out of our comfort zones to, as James says, love one another.


May we all marvel in the profoundness of the Trinity. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit - all in one Divine Dance meeting us individually and corporately. May your heart be encouraged today that you have meaning, purpose, and should I dare say mission.


Where we serve in Costa Rica, may you find that the soil under your feet is just as Holy Ground. Let us live faithfully to the One who redeems + empowers. Nothing is wasted and nothing is too ordinary for our God.


Amen.



As some of you may or may not know, I've created a social media account called

Beautiful Liturgies in which I highlight the Church calendar and reflect on ancient and modern prayers. It's my attempt to stay grounded and bring intention to the everyday normal rhythms of our day that are - what I believe - to be extremely sacred and forming for our spiritual lives. These resources are simply tools in our walk with Christ because as always- our aim is Jesus Himself.


Feel free to check me out on Instagram at @beautifulliturgies.



 

*Eugene H. Peterson, The Pastor - A Memoir (New York: HarperOne, 2011) p. 127

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