22nd Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: Psalm 145, John 2: 2 – 12
I found it truly inspiring to share in the TIM worship on the 24th of September.
Following a year of all kinds of online gatherings and exchange, this service concluded the 40th anniversary celebrations. Forty years of Training in Mission and some 241 participants from 6 continents, from all walks of life and from at least two generations! But whether we were part of that experimental ‘Gang of Ten’ in the early 1980s, when partnership in mission had only just been exposed as ‘empty slogan’ as long as mission structures did not change, or we were millennials redefining mission at a time of climate change and refugee crises, we recognised one another as we smiled at each other across our screens, shared experiences and sung and prayed together. In TIM something had happened to all of us, a fire was lit, as Lim Sok Yee from Gereja Presbyterian Malaysia said, and we had glimpsed something of the importance of saying ‘yes’ to God, and ‘no’ to all that separates people from God, one another and creation.
Becoming ‘troublemakers’ is how Christopher from Guyana described his TIM experience. Learning to say no to oppressive structures as much as oppressive theologies. And somehow finding the courage – together, as persons connected in a global fellowship – to not only realising that change is needed, but to actually starting to make that change happen.
Is that a realistic understanding of the impact of Training in Mission? Are the changes that we talked about in our classes and placements not just illusions, hopes way beyond our grasp? Are love and justice really do-able?
Two things have become clear over the years. First, in a world where apathy in the face of the multitude of global problems is rife, a Training in Mission year empowers the participants to indeed get up and start acting. It is the intense interaction, the learning from one another and the pooling of insights and resources that can enable, and has enabled, courageous responses in the face of a world that’s burning.
Second, the story of the wedding in Cana in John 2 helps us to keep our role in perspective. As a mentor once reminded me, we are not called upon to change the water into wine. We just need to be there to carry the vessels with the water to Jesus. It’s He who works the miracles; we ‘simply’ try to hear his voice calling us to a specific place and a specific task and so get to share in his mission of redemption and recreation of God’s beloved world.
It is, I believe, the experience of having been empowered for action in TIM, and the awareness that we don’t have to be miracle workers but just water carriers, that made us recognise each other across our screens on September 24th. And so we smiled, and waved, and sang and prayed. Let’s go and continue to be troublemakers and water carriers into the next forty years!
-Ms. Jet den Hollander, PKN
time and again
that large band of pilgrims
that is following the man of Galilee
towards the beckoning future
of a world
where justice and peace embrace each other,
daring to look at ourselves,
and our relationships
in the mirror of that new world
and addressing the gap
between vision and reality
with all the love, passion, patience and wisdom
which You have placed at our disposal.
Ms. Jet den Hollander, PKN