GO, TEACH, AND REMBMBER: Reflections on Trinity Sunday
On the First Sunday after Pentecost we hear that among the disciples there were both worshipers and doubters—this is really beginning to sound like church. But let’s be clear, Matthew is not suggesting two disparate groups, rather he is saying that among the worshippers there were doubters. This is important. If we cannot bring our doubts to worship, or to funeral services for that matter, our faith will not grow and our discipleship will likely succumb to more doubt and eventually ... apathy. The counterpoint to doubt is not belief, but faith and practice, whereby some of our beliefs, some of our doubts, and even some of our disbeliefs will be transformed—this is the work of the Holy Spirit in the context of worship and service.
For me I hear three critical words in Matthew’s account of the ‘Great Commission’—GO, TEACH, and remember. I think this could form the core for any church mission statement—what it means to practice our faith.
GO—“make disciples of all nations” –this suggests activity beyond sitting in the pew, or hunkering down within a particular location. We do not need to sign-up for a foreign mission trip to follow the GO imperative. We are in the ‘GO mode’ when we bother to send a card, make a phone call, express a note of ‘thank you’ or ‘I’m thinking of you,’ send flowers, make a nursing home or hospital visit, offer a ride to church, or just a friendly smile that says “I see you and value you.” GO means reaching out beyond our preoccupation with ourselves. Our GOING means connecting with those who need a touch of ‘good news’ ... a touch of the gospel, a touch of love. Jesus never said, “If you build it, they will come.” He said GO to where the need is.
Teach—the second key imperative. Today ‘good teaching’ is a matter of a healthy national debate. But when is that last time we have had a good conversation about the role of teaching within our churches? We hope that both our young and not-so-young will receive good Christian education, but we need to do more than hope. (We have much to learn here from both our Jewish and Evangelical brothers and sisters.) A crash Confirmation Class for a young teenager, or an occasional Advent or Lenten series for adults, cannot accomplish all that is implied in teaching. We need to search our souls as to what our resistance is to preaching and teaching of any kind within the Body of Christ that goes beyond twelve minutes. Jesus certainly set the model for teaching with his disciples; I doubt that anyone signaled him when his time was up. Rather, most of his listeners seemed hungry for God’s Word. And when, after three years, the time came for commissioning, Jesus sent out a variety of teachers with different voices but with the same message.
Our third key word is Remember—perhaps that is what we do best as Episcopalians. Our liturgy is designed around remembering. What some may hear as redundant ritual, most recall that “Do this in remembrance of me” looms large at our Lord’s final meal with His disciples. If we do not “remember that Jesus is with us always, to the end of the age,” as Matthew reports, we will eventually have nothing to TEACH, and no reason to GO.
So we do well to reflect on how the Great Commission applies to us in our day on both the personal and corporate level? What does it mean for us to do the basics well: to GO, TEACH, and REMEMBER?