During our Mission and Evangelism lectures this week we watched some clips from the film ‘Bridge to Terabithia’. Not a film I’ve seen before, but it sparked some deep discussion on the subject surrounding mission and the ‘Kingdom’, based around the Anglican Churches first mark of mission; Proclaim the Kingdom of God’.
At the end of the film, a boy leads his sister to a bridge he has built that will lead them into Terabithia, their imaginary kingdom. He takes her by the hand, and guides her to the bridge, and slowly they walk across and as she begins to believe she also begins to see, the bridge is transformed, and she sees the kingdom.
In the earlier discussion our lecturer asked ‘so do you need to know the King to belong to the Kingdom?’ Ever since I’ve been struck by that question, not the King and Kingdom, but ‘to belong’. What does it mean to belong? How important is belonging to mission?
After the end of the film, we were asked to discuss the question, ‘as leaders in the church, how do we enable people to enter the Kingdom’. Again we had lots of discussion, but I was constantly thinking about belonging. In the film clip, as the sister begins to see she says, can there be purple flowers, and the world of the boys imagination is transformed to also take on the girls, she asks for a big castle, and again, it comes. The boy was willing to allow his sister to imagine too.
So my question that is ‘floating’ in my head at the moment…in mission how important is belonging? My reflections so far suggest that belonging in one way or another is an integral part of our mission work. Part of out human nature is a desire to be loved, accepted, valued…to belong.
But perhaps the more difficult question…is belonging about people feeling part of who we are, (and by we here I’m meaning church in a collective term) or us ensuring we are willing to part of who they are. Do you see the difference? Is mission about people coming into what we already are and belonging to it or, is mission about us ensuring we adapt to enable others to belong.
I think in fact there is not a right or wrong answer to that question really, but for me the dynamic of the two polarities raises important issues for a church to reflect on if it is to be serious about proclaiming the Kingdom of God.