Covenant and Mission
Jon & Dawn Barnes – South Africa
Jon & Dawn Barnes – South Africa
As the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) we celebrate communion together as a body, as a family, every Sunday. It is the highlight of worship. And for us, personally, it is a spiritual time of covenant and renewal in our relationship with God. As we enter into Lent and look forward to Easter we have meditated on the relationship between covenant and mission.
“When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And he did the same with the cup after, supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Luke 22:14-20
We realize from the scripture that Christ made a covenant with his disciples and with us today that through faith in Christ we would be able to have a relationship with God. And we are reminded of this covenant every time we partake of communion. This covenant and communion is shared together in mission around the world. As we celebrate this meal in South Africa we commune with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa in the Kei Region. We have served and shared communion in a one-room church with dung floors, in the homes of those who are dying and in Sunday morning worship services with praises in Xhosa and in Afrikaans. No matter where we are in the world or where we commune we are in covenant with God.
But being in covenant, in relationship, is not just something that God does or offers to us. God gives us a job, a responsibility…a mission! We can be in covenant with God and say, “We believe…yes, we believe in God!” but without action, without works, without mission we are not truly in covenant with God. We are called as Christians to share the gospel to the ends of the earth, to show our faith by our works, to bring life more abundantly, to bring justice and to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, minds, and strength. We cannot be in covenant with God if we are not active in mission.
God calls us into a relationship with God to love others, to serve those in need, and to work to make God’s kingdom a reality in our world today. Once we have accepted that we need Jesus, then, as part of the covenant, God also asks us to be like Jesus…to serve others, to act on our faith in the same way Christ did…in short to be committed. If all we do is say, “we believe,” but are unwilling to be committed, to be in mission, the Bible says that we may as well have no faith.
So as we enter into Lent and as our journey of faith brings us upon the last meal of Christ, let us ask ourselves, “Are we truly in a covenant with God?” “Are we doing our part…are we doing God’s (and our) mission?” Global Ministries mission statement says, “Global Ministries is committed to Critical Presence…meeting God’s people and creation at the point of deepest need: spiritually, physically, emotionally and/or economically.” Can we not use this statement for our own personal lives wherever we are serving God in the world? Is this not what Christ has called us to do? Let us commune together, let us covenant together and let us be in mission together…..for God has called us all!
Please pray for our partners here in South Africa in the Kei Region and for us as we prepare for our interpretation time in the United States. Our four-year term is ending in June and we will be in the US for six months. Pray that our partners will carry on in the work and mission in which they are involved and that Christ’s spirit will commune with them. Pray for our children and us as we prepare for a new experience, a new journey and new covenants that will be made in the months ahead. We thank you for being in relationship with us as we have made this journey over the last four years here in South Africa and may God guide you to your mission each new day.
Revs. Dawn and Jon Barnes
Jonathan and Dawn Barnes are missionaries with the Kei Regional Council of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, South Africa. Jonathan serves in pastoral ministries among the churches in the region. Dawn serves in pastoral ministries and social work.