Rev. Andrew Cunnington
15th September 2019
Using The Whole Of Ourselves In His Service

You are probably aware that every church needs to have a Mission Action Plan.

This should reflect the priorities we have here at St Matthew’s for spreading the Good News.

It’s a plan that must not just be decided upon by a Committee so that it looks good.

It should reflect what we all think we should be doing as a church and how the gifts and talents of each of us can contribute to the outcome.

The contents of such a plan are built round the five marks of mission.

To Proclaim, teach, respond, transform and to care for creation.

These marks are all drawn from the teaching and the subsequent actions we find in the Gospels.

As we undertake this review – we have divided the areas into Communication, Environment, Worship and Nurture and Community Engagement – and you will see sheets round the church relating to each of these.

It is good for us to think again about what we need to be doing here on the festival day of our patronal saint, Matthew. For here was a man called to be a disciple as a result of direct outreach from Jesus into the shady world of tax gathering and wealth creation.

Within a very few verses Jesus made an astonishing impact on him.

And when we look at how he went about this – we find a simple but challenging template for our own response.

“As Jesus went on from there” – Jesus was a man on the move. He was not to be found sitting still for long. He was on his feet calling in on the little communities dotted around the Sea Of Galilee.

He used his feet.

“He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth” – Jesus did not pass other people by as one lost in his own thoughts. He did not avoid those who may have seen things differently from him. He made eye contact with those around him and drew them into his gaze.

He used his eyes.

“Follow Me” he commanded Matthew. Jesus addressed a complete stranger, not hesitantly or apologetically, but firmly and with authority. I reckon there were a few verbal exchanges between Matthew and Jesus along the way.

He used his voice.

“Matthew got up and followed Him”. I like to think of Jesus taking Matthew by the hand and pulling him to his feet. So many of Jesus’s encounters with people included the act of literally raising up. Setting people on a new course. Bringing healing. I think this was Matthew’s healing moment.

He used his hands.

“and he was having dinner at Matthew’s house with many tax collectors and sinners” – as so often with Jesus, he uses the meal table to show that his kingdom is different from worldly ways. This meal would have been a scandal. The actions of Jesus and his friends cause people to question, drawing some people in and repelling others.

He used the everyday actions of eating and drinking. And he acted in a way that would cause people to sit up and take notice.

We are called to express our mission as if we were the body of Christ -and we can start by asking how we can be like Jesus and use the parts of our body as the gifts we have to offer.

Our feet. Our eyes. Our mouth. Our hands. And make the every day actions of our lives point to something fresh.

What would our mission action plan look like if we each followed the example of Jesus here?

What would our discipleship look like then?

It would be easy to consider all this and still end up with a wish list of actions which suit ourselves rather than be in tune with Jesus.

But right at the end of the reading is a little verse which guards against that.

With the Pharisees and tax collectors under the same roof for once… he gives us our vital reference point.

He says “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”.

In the end our part in the mission action plan is not carved out through obligation duty, what we are told to do or what we are used to be doing – but rather, where is it we can exercise mercy in our actions.

Mercy – reaching out in love to the other person whatever situation we or they find themselves in. Not giving up on another person. Not condemning other people who may not match up. Rather, accepting, welcoming and drawing in.

Just as we pray for the Lord to have mercy upon us as we come to Communion – knowing our own shortcomings – so we live out that prayer in the way we meet with others.

Using who we are to – to draw one another close to who God is.

At the end of the service today there is a chance to look round the boards in church that display these areas of mission and for each of us to ask … Are these the right priorities? How might they be improved upon if you were to think about how you can use the person you are – in ways that reflect Jesus’s mercy.

Please use the post it notes to put something up where you might like to be involved more or where it strikes you that we need to improve what we do.

Whatever these sheets contain – your PCC will look at them at a special meeting next month and out of that will emerge the plan to take us forward into the future.

MATTHEW 9: 9-13