The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, chief pastor to the 2.4 million Episcopalians in the U.S. and 15 other countries around the world. In the introduction to her new book Gathering at God’s Table: The Meaning of Mission in the Feast of Faith, she gives a fascinating history of church mission activity, primarily from an Episcopalian perspective.
- To proclaim the good news of the kingdom.
- To teach, baptize, and nurture new believers.
- To respond to human need with loving service.
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society.
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
This book fits in the same category as monumental works like The Mission of God by Chris Wright, but Gathering at God’s Table is much more devotional in nature. Each section is filled with short vignettes illustrating various sub-points under the five marks of mission. This makes the material more accessible to a popular audience, but it also obscures Jefferts Schori’s own missiology to some degree.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that Jefferts Schori is not a missiologist, but rather a pastor, and this book reads much like a collection of her homilies, all centered on the theme of mission.
I was highlighting things on every page of the introduction, but as I got into the rest of the book, the gems were a little more scattered and few and far between. But there are plenty of gems here.
Like this: “Jesus has set us free. For freedom he has set us free and sent us out. If he is willing to take that eternal and ultimate risk, can our own mission engagement be any less willing?”
And this: “Mission is evangelical—it’s about spreading the good news and forming followers of Jesus. But mission has a broader meaning, too … Mission is primarily about how Christians are meant to live their lives, and what actions are asked of them in relation to their neighbors. We might say mission is how to love God through loving our neighbors.”
And as a book for devotional reading, this is a great book to crack open on a daily basis for a short meditation that will keep you focused on different aspects of God’s mission. I’m still reading through it, and it’s a really refreshing read.
Check out a great Q&A with Jefferts Schori over at the Patheos Book Club!