The statement itself can be broken into two very distinct threads “Our Goals/Desires” and “God’s Call” on our lives. These two are interwoven so nicely and have a great deal of theology behind them; which really is the point of this article overall. Most people think you need to have a seminary education to do theology. This simply is not true. The word Theology comes from the Greek Theologia; made up from Theo, “God,” and Logos, “Speech.” In other words, Theology is simply a “discourse about God.” And this mission statement is loaded with it.
Let’s start with God’s Call as seen by us through our mission statement: FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE. These themes are found throughout Scripture, but we will focus mainly on 1 Corinthians 13 as it is very concise about these topics. We will start with he obvious 13:13, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” These are God’s gifts to us which we are to use to become more God-like. Or, to use the imagery of Paul from this chapter, we are the mirror which others see God dimly in. We are given these gifts for this purpose. We have no entitlement to them or have done nothing special to receive them, they are the gifts of God. God gives them and then calls us to use them to “…make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). What I find interesting here is not these gifts though. It is the way in which other ideas of God are so intricately woven into the statement without being spoken directly. We are the “image of God” to the world. We are not God, but are known by the world as God by how we use these gifts in participating in the creation of the “New Heaven” and “New Earth” talked about by John in the book of Revelation (chapter 21). It also conveys our understanding of ourselves as Children of God on a journey toward a more adult understanding and relationship with our God, CONNECTING with GOD.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
— 1 Corinthians 13:11-12
Now whether this was done consciously, or was the word working within and through the congregation in the creation of the mission statement, is inconsequential. The Spirit moved within those writing and those adopting in order to tell the world what Roberts Congregational UCC believes about God. Much the same way that Scripture and Sermons touch people in different ways and at different levels depending on where they are at and what they need to hear. Each of these pieces can be easily seen by those visiting and reading them. They may not see all of them, but they are there for helping people CONNECT with us and what we believe and therefore with God through us.
This leads us to Our Goals/Desires: CONNECT, LIVE, KNOWN BY, and CULTIVATE. What we believe about those gifts and our God moves us to desire a closer CONNECT-ion with our God. It causes us to want to be that mirror image of God as we LIVE our lives. It develops in us a desire to be KNOWN BY both God and the world to spread that LOVE God has gifted us with. In this world we will not always get that right as Paul so aptly states in 1 Corinthians 13:12 about being partially known now and fully known when our time comes to be with God.
The final piece is in the CULTIVATE statement. Though Paul is right that the greatest of the gifts we receive is LOVE, the one which is the greatest gift we can give to the world is that of HOPE. LOVE is the power God uses to create/cultivate hope within us and others. As those seeds grow and people are able to read this statement, they are able to see the HOPE God is asking us to maintain for others. It speaks volumes about the calling God has given us. We are not just to receive these gifts, but to use them in order to better those around us.
It is here that as a newcomer and a leader I get most excited. Watching the way in which people within this family of God known as Roberts Congregational UCC wrestle with living this mission statement out at so many levels. As they develop their connections with God through study, service, or worship, or they find ways to live out their faith in their daily lives; or continue to work on their growing edges around love and let others see that work; or share in the continued work of creating and cultivating hope for others; they speak volumes of theology to the world.
God bless each of you as you continue to find your way on this journey of faith. May all we do individually and as a congregation always strive to follow and fit this mission statement. I encourage all of us to intentionally think about it as we make the decisions we do daily about our individual journeys and the journey we take together as a church family.