Living our Mission
A few nights ago I was invited to dinner with a family who have joined the Parish recently. It was a wonderful evening in which I was immersed in the challenges of their working lives as they shared stories of their experiences in tertiary education and the criminal justice system. The essence of much of our conversation revolved around the challenges of living good lives in the workspace, questioning nonsensical decisions, calling others to lives of excellence. We also touched on the exhaustion that comes from doing a job well, and the increasing expectations that this generates.
This family has recently felt the need to realign their lives with the Church, but their lives have not lacked Faith, and the goodness of God has been operating in them and through them. This realignment reflects a choice to become more conscious of God’s presence and call, and a decision to actively seek God’s strength and help in living their already value-centred lives.
As I reflect on our dinner together, enhanced by other friends – also Parishioners – I am struck by the importance of our mission at Corpus Christi: to be role models and responsible risk-takers for Christ where we live, work and worship. Our mission reflects the Benedictine call to find balance, to ensure that our lives are not over-burdened in any direction, that there is space for prayer, study, work, recreation and relaxation. We need – I need – to stop on occasion and reflect that if we are role models for Christ, what are we modelling? I will never forget the comment of one of our younger Parishioners who worked on a Sunday in the bookshop of a local mega-church: she was consistently amazed at how members of that community would come directly from worship into the bookshop and treat her and other staff with irritation and impatience. I often wonder how the cashiers at Woolworths in Serene Street experience Anglicans on a Sunday after our services of worship? I must admit to being a little nervous to ask …
We live in a consumerist culture where work is often the dominating feature of our lives. How does one begin to find life-balance when traffic and work consume so much of our time? And work always demands that extra bit of flesh from our lives? I am aware that for many at Corpus Christi Monday to Friday is dominated by work and traffic, and there is little meaningful time available for family interaction and community involvement. Weekends are dominated by those things previous generations fitted into their week, which smaller, more rural communities still do. I am hugely appreciative of many who commit to Sunday mornings being Church-focused, willing to spend time in worship and fellowship with fellow participators in the family of God. I am understanding, too, of those whose hobbies and sport draw them away on a regular basis. Interestingly, in a recent study in the USA, regular Church attendance is defined as being present in worship on a monthly basis; a generation ago it was weekly.
Living our mission cannot be something we do separate from the rest of our lives. It needs to be an intrinsic part of the fullness of life, where we live, work and worship: traffic, work, home, family, friendship, gym, church and community. The family I had dinner with may not be aware that they are living out our mission, but as I listened and interacted I heard much about God’s presence in their lives, and while work was a dominating feature of the conversation and the “spiritual” discussion took place as I climbed into my car to leave, I am in no doubt that they model their Faith in what they do, and I am thankful that God’s Spirit is drawing them into a greater consciousness of his place in their lives.