Belonging

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.

2 thoughts on “Belonging”

  1. It is in becoming vulnerable that our relationships strengthen. If the Church isn’t able or willing to do this, accept others, be amidst others even if it were to lose its intrinsic label, then it remains outside. For surely if its message of love is sufficient why would it need a label?; its identity results from its actions. From a position, not of hierarchy but being truly alongside, the church can play it’s part within society.

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  2. Our mission should be showing gods love to our neighbours no matter how it is. My church in Norwich have a service set up every Saturday where they go out and help out in the local community from simple things like Gardening to painting their house. A lot of the people that they help don’t come to church at all but through that help and care they might well come along to church at a later date. They also organise Christmas hampers every year last year there was 180 families helped with the basic Christmas essentials so Christmas pudding mince pies, chocolate, biscuits and they get given a voucher to get a turkey and fresh food so thats one less thing to worry about when they are struggling! So amazing to be a part of something helping so many people and again it’s getting that message out that they are cared for. If you want to look it up the company is love norwich should find it through google. Hope you are enjoying college anyway Dan.

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