Know Your Faith: The mission of the Church is a dance

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Know Your Faith: The mission of the Church is a dance

By Kaelanne Jordan

The third instalment of ‘Faith and Synodality: Mission’ of the monthly Know Your Faith series concluded Monday, July 25, with contributions from various persons involved in the Synod process.

The Synod’s three keywords are Communion, Participation and Mission. Communion and Participation were discussed in previous episodes July 11 and 18, respectively.

As he did in the previous episodes, moderator Deacon Hilary Bengochea presented various clips of Fr Donald Chambers’ reflection on the three themes during a Mass.

Fr Chambers asserted if there is to be communion among a people of God, then the mission of the Church must be “dance like”. For this to happen, the Church must “slow down” and engage in the “slow dance” into people’s lives by communing and participating in their lives. “…the mission of the Church isn’t a race. The mission of the Church is a dance,” he reiterated.

Responding to his own question of how the Church can slow dance into people’s lives, Fr Chambers shared three ways as illustrated in Luke 24:13–35. This passage, he opined, becomes a model for this dance-like mission of the Church as Jesus danced into the lives of the two disciples.

He referred to the Synod Handbook 1.4 which states that the “Church exists to evangelise. We can never be centred on ourselves. Our mission is to witness to the love of God in the midst of the whole human family…”

Fr Chambers commented that the Church is not a “social club.” “And this leads me to another question… beloved, into whose lives is the Church called to dance? The Church is called to dance into the messy, murky, and marginalised space of people’s lives. Lives that are chaotic, disordered, messy relationships of families, workplace, and society.”

It is for this reason, Fr Chambers explained, that the Church is involved in ministry to migrants and refugees, prisoners, the socioeconomically poor, among other areas.

The mission of the Church, he asserted, is not only observatory, but participatory. Fr Chambers suggested that the faithful use the spiritual skills of storytelling and story listening to dance into people’s lives as a pathway to their healing and reconciliation.

Fr Chambers, in his blog on Synod titled ‘The Synod Word’ likened Synod to

“…. letters coming together to form words,

…. words coming together to form sentences,

…. sentences coming together to form a paragraph,

…. paragraphs coming together to form a chapter,

…chapters coming together to form a story,

…. stories coming together to form a book,

…books coming together to form a library.

And libraries coming together to form a collection of stories.”

All five letters dance together to create a movement and meaning, Fr Chambers said.

Deacon Bengochea then invited Deacon Joachim Hernandez of the Santa Rosa/Malabar RC cluster to share how the clip resonated with him.

A former solider in the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, Deacon Hernandez shared that he is familiar with mission from his time in the Regiment. “We were given a mission every day. In the army it’s not a social club either. But you are called to whatever mission assigned to you, you need to go and execute that. The difference being is that mission changes, but the Church, the mission remains, to come together as one… and that’s what the synodal process is,” Deacon Hernandez said.

He commented while there are challenges in going to those on the fringes, there is always hope.

Deacon Hernandez shared that the men’s ministry of the Malabar parish visited neighbouring communities, notably in Samaroo Village “and they witnessed to the community. And after a year or so you saw changes….”

Deacon Hernandez underscored mission is “very important” to be lived. It is, he said, something that is achievable. He urged faithful to believe they have all the equipment necessary. “The only equipment you need is that of the Holy Spirit guiding and directing us. All we have to do is to have our hearts open to the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Also joining the conversation was Rachel Poon King from the St Joseph parish. Poon King has been involved in the synod process at the parish and vicariate levels.

In sharing her personal experience of the process, Poon King surmised, “I got a sense you are being called to do something. When it is finished there is something waiting for you at the end, and you have a different role to play…. Now that we are finished this first part of the process it is now time for us to transition to the next stage. That is putting into practice what we have heard.”

She concluded her talk reminding persons of the butterfly effect. “…A small event such as a butterfly flapping its wings can result in something bigger. Small changes can have a big impact on a parish level, on a church level and on an individual level,” she said.

On Mission Sunday, the Archbishop invited faithful to pray that we will become a Church of mission, that we will send missionaries consistently out as we receive missionaries consistently.