As parishes develop the second round of Mission Action Plans, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s remark (from Letters and Papers from Prison) rings true: “Our being Christian today will be limited to two things, prayer and doing justice among men”. That statement is surely as pertinent for us today, with all our uncertainties, as it was in Nazi Germany of 1944. So as we look at our immediate communities and their needs we will be drawn to examine the relationships we and they have with the wider world.
As part of the MAP process some Parishes have looked at the places of work of their population and possible international links which employers have. The countries from which raw materials are imported and perhaps even the manufacturing processes of these businesses might be considered together with their target markets. It may be appropriate to look at their environmental impacts (mindful of climate change and pollution) and also whether there may be effects upon marginalised or deprived communities in less developed societies with which businesses are involved.
In this way prayers for our own people and the communities we care about can be linked to those situations about which we know less and those communities which suffer injustice and poverty beyond our immediate horizon. Our prayers should then be better informed and purposeful as we discover what God is already doing and engage with it so that Christ’s Kingdom of Peace and Justice may be extended.
To do that it is worth remembering the “Five Marks of Mission” which Christians of many countries and cultures have affirmed as a way of finding a common focus as they share in God’s mission in the world are:
- To Proclaim, the good news of the kingdom
- To Teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- To Respond, to human need by loving service
- To Seek, to transform the unjust structures of society
- To Strive, to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.