I’m in the process of scrambling to prepare for a four-day intensive course on Latin American Mission & Ecumenism (Bolivian edition), super grateful to have been admitted belatedly to this class which begins meeting on Saturday. I’m really looking forward to seeing who else will come, it promises to be quite an ecumenical group, and I am eager to learn about the various perspectives and experiences of my classmates. The course is being sponsored by several different institutions and hosted just down the street from my new home, at ISEAT–the Instituto Superior Ecuménico Andino de Teología (which translates to something like the Andean Ecumenical Institute of Theology; it is an affiliate of the Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana, main campus in San José, Costa Rica).
This afternoon I prepared the homework assignment required of all participants, even those of us who aren’t seeking academic credit: a brief narrative and reflection on our own experiences with mission and ecumenism, both good and troubling, including the identification of a symbol that represents our understanding of mission. I chose an embrace as my symbol for mission and described it something like this:
Mission is fundamentally the work of God, who embraces all creation in arms of love, imparting divine justice, truth, and healing. We human beings are united and connected to one another through this divine embrace. In Christ’s church, our participation in God’s mission is realized when we reach out to our neighbor, whether it is the woman next door or a people far away, entering into relationship and offering a physical hug or some sign of the love that God has gifted us. The divine embrace encompasses everything we know, our errors as well as the beautiful things we manage to do or create, and works through love to “unite all things in Christ, in the fullness of time” (Ephesians 1:10).
What symbolizes mission for you?