Embracing Discipleship—A Timeless Call

Many years ago, when Church House was still situated at 600 Jarvis Street, the Stewardship and Financial Department of General Synod distributed a series of three booklets called The Gifts We Bring, which was a compilation of worship resources, prayers, and litanies, focused on stewardship and mission. It came from around the world, including from the World Council of Churches. 

There is little information in the resource to indicate either the date of writing, publishing, or compilation, although some individual articles and prayers do indicate a date, the earliest being 1983. Some of it also includes material going back centuries. Whatever its date, so much of the material is still current, if not timeless. 

Case in point is a litany of reflection on Matthew 4:18-22 where Jesus called the first disciples and Matthew 10:1-16, when Jesus sent out the twelve, saying to them, “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’.” The source of that litany is CommPac Facilitators Manual, Commission on Stewardship, National Council of the Churches of Christ. The litany itself focuses on Jesus’ call to the disciples and includes, in part, these statements: “When Jesus needed disciples, he called ordinary people like you and me to be with him and to share in his ministry. When Jesus called his disciples, he put them in clusters so that they would not be alone. In those clusters, Jesus taught them many things and sent them out to share their experience. When Jesus sent out his disciples, he assured them of the presence of God’s Spirit which would make their service effectual.” Each of these statements is followed by a response. 

All around us, we hear about discipleship—from the Anglican Communion, the Lambeth calls and many dioceses in our country, including our own Diocese of Western Newfoundland and Labrador Straits. For the past year, we have been learning about what discipleship is and what being a disciple entails. In October, the Discipleship Campaign in our Diocese moved from training to reaching out to all who identify as Anglicans to invite them to a fellowship meal with teaching based on the fruits of the Spirit. Using the theme “Be disciples, make disciples,” our Diocese has chosen to focus on what it means to be a follower of Christ and is intentional about sharing that message. That litany on Matthew’s Gospel speaks clearly to what is involved in being a disciple of Jesus and to how we live into that discipleship—we are ordinary people, called to share in God’s ministry to the world, we do so in community supporting one another, learning from Jesus and reaching out to others, and all of it done, not in our own strength, but through the power of God’s Spirit. It is no surprise that we hear of this emphasis on discipleship from so many places as it goes to the heart of who we are as God’s people and what we are called to do and be.

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