“Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”
A hidden tape recorder and a dossier of photos and information is found in a secret location. The agents listen for their mission before the tape self-destructs in 5 seconds. This was the opening of the American espionage television series called Mission: Impossible that aired on CBS from September 1966 to March 1973. If you are old enough you can remember the theme song “Burning Fuse”; a jazzy little number that invited the watcher into a sense of intrigue and heightened curiosity. When was the last time you felt drawn into the church’s mission from a sense of intrigue and heightened curiosity? I suspect it has been a while. Over the nine months that I’ve been here I have heard many stories about the strong sense of mission that FCUCC has had in the past. From feeding the unsheltered to building houses, from advocating for immigrant farm workers to supporting refugees, this congregation has had a long and proud mission of welcoming the stranger, helping those who are less fortunate and advocating for justice. What else is true is how much has changed in the last five years. The decline in membership along with pastoral changes have created a loss of clarity and slowing of momentum in our mission activities. Add the Pandemic shut down and we are a bit like a ship without a chart trying to find our way to a port that we aren’t sure exists.
What ends up happening in moments like this? People either turn on themselves, finding something or someone to blame for the loss of direction, OR they turn back to the Source to discover that the map that will show them where they are and where they need to point the bow so they can complete their mission.
OK, so I am mixing metaphors. Please indulge me for a bit. As someone who lived on a sailboat for three years in my early 20’s, I lived in the reality that going anywhere by sail required several important elements for the trip to be successful.
I had to trust the ship to be seaworthy. My first husband, Mark, and I spent an entire summer rebuilding our 32’ Alden sloop, a wooden boat that required extensive renovations to be watertight, let alone live-aboard worthy! Ask me what a joggle stick is sometime!
I had to trust the navigator to plot a course that would get us to the desired destination. Mark turned out to be a very skilled navigator, plotting a course through the fog on one trip that brought us right to the buoy marking the harbor entrance.
I had to trust my ability to raise, trim and lower sails as well as follow the charted course and make corrections as necessary. Squalls and heavy seas will demand a new strategy. So will losing your engine. Corrections come in many guises!
I had to trust my body and know when it is time to move ashore. When our first child was born, we knew we needed more space and eventually opted to come ashore instead of getting a bigger boat. Our mission had changed, and a new course needed to be charted, one that included kids. Had we opted for the bigger boat (and the cruising life that would have allowed) who knows what course my life would have taken?
We can ask ourselves, “Had the pandemic not happened, where would our ministry at FCUCC be?” An interesting thing to ponder but not helpful in answering the questions that are before us now. We, like the agents of Mission: Impossible need to find that tape recorder and hear what the mission, should we choose to accept it, is all about today. Over the next 6 weeks I will be writing about and preaching on Mission and Vision as we prepare for the Mission and Vision Workshop on October 22nd. Yes, I had thought we would get to this earlier, but course changes happen! As we move into the fall, with all the exciting programs, events and opportunities coming up, I invite you to think about the core mission of FCUCC and what actions chart the course for living out our mission. Look at the four covenant statements (linked here) that came from our workshop last weekend and imagine the course each one would chart. Imagine the mission with intrigue and curiosity, the Mission: Possible that each would engender. Peace, Pastor Robin Course-plotting God, you give us the tools to listen and reflect on the place and time that we inhabit, and we are grateful. Show us your chart that we would follow you in the ways of love and justice. Open our hearts and minds to new visions of mission for such a time as this. And remind us that we are never alone, our Navigator is with us always, showing us the way to Love. Amen.