Abraham doesn't merely go, rather it is God who sends him out of Ur. Moses doesn't go and confront the pharaoh out of his own power, but rather he is sent and empowered by YHWH to face the powers of oppression and injustice. Jesus himself was sent by the Father to the world. Jesus' mission begins with a sending.
And the church itself is not a going community; but a sent community. And a community that sends.
Jesus prays for us, "As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." And since its inception, the church has sent out loved ones to be love and light in the world. And so, as I prepare to get on a plane (8.5 hours to London, then 9 hours to Entebbe) and go with other members of First Austin to East Africa; I recognize that we travel in the spirit of "sent-ness" at the core of our faith story and found at the very heart of God.
Last Sunday in worship, when you commissioned Dorothy, Robert, Robbi, Pancho, Mary, Harvey, and myself you prayed:
Out of our gathered call to share the good news in our daily lives, we commission and send out these ambassadors of First Baptist,
presented to you, oh God, to fulfill your great mission to the world
We responded with these lines:
Standing in the rich, deep history of missional life and work at First Austin, we are honored to commit ourselves to the service of Christ being sent out of this community.We go because of you. You send us and it is my honor to carry the name of FBC Austin with us. Pray that we represent ourselves, our church, and our Savior with integrity, love, openness, and a spirit of being sent.
Being sent by you, First Baptist means that we are responsible for a greater story than ourselves, but the shared story of Jesus coming to heal and save us. It means that we go to share with others the love and generosity you have shared with me. Being sent means I now must reflect back that same sacrificial, risky, and daring love you have reflected and shown me. It also means we must bring back those stories of God at work in Ethiopia and Uganda that you need.
Going can be merely an expression of western mobility and individual travel, being sent is a responsibility and calling to engage with God and his church in the healing of the world. A calling First Austin strives to live out daily in Austin as well as the world. We are ambassadors of a shared story, embodied by 166 years of faithful witnesses and saints, including you!
Depending on the access and time for blogging, my hope is to keep you updated as we go, sent by you.
Not only will this be a fun way for you to keep updated with what we are doing and seeing, but also it will be a great way for you to know how and what to pray. As we begin this long journey over, please be in prayer for Mary Burger, Harvey Mayton, Dorothy and Robert Strickland, Robbi and Pancho Francovich, and me, Joe Bumbulis.
Here's a peak at our travel itinerary for the next day or so.
Thursday, Nov. 29: Austin to Dallas (4:30pm-5:30pm).
Dallas to London (6:35pm-9:35am on Friday Nov. 30). about 8.5-9 hours of flying. Then we get about 1.5 hours for a layover before:
Nov. 30: 11:15am-10:40pm, London to Entebbe, Uganda.
We'll stay near the airport in the capital before separating into two teams. Dorothy, Robbi, and Pancho will travel to Kampala to begin work at the "Center for Refuge and Hope" while getting to be with Missy Ward and Jade and Sheila Acker. Joe, Robert, Mary, and Harvey will get on a plane on Sunday, Dec. 1st for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: 5:25pm-7:35pm. We'll sleep over near the airport before heading out into the backcountry with David Harding to see the impact of the water wells we helped build through the "Water for Hope" Advent conspiracy campaign.