In 2003 I took an evangelism class at Perkins School of Theology. We were assigned David J. Bosch's "Transforming Mission" which is a rich, dense text on mission and evangelism. Little did I know then how that book would enrich my understanding of mission.
Fast forward to Wednesday morning this week. I got on a bus in the early morning dark, meeting new United Methodist Women friends. We drove through the rain to meet more women, and drove more through the rain to meet yet more women. Two bus loads, driving over 12 hours in the rain to Ohio for United Methodist Women Assembly 2018.
Thousands of women are gathered to worship, pray, listen and learn. These women began with a Day of Service, partnering with United Methodist organizations and nonprofits in Columbus. The theme for Assembly is The Power of BOLD.
Our gatherings each emphasize an aspect of bold. Called to Bold - Mary was called by God to say yes and trust the Spirit's leading; Bold Dreams - we named the ways we are each gifted by God to answer God's call; Cost of Bold - living out our call to seek justice and liberation for all God's people can be risky, some have been mocked and silenced due to their faithful witness; Bold Action - encouraging us to speak up and to invite others to join us on this journey. These are the Power of Bold.
On the bus, Betty Leitzig gave our devotional. She reminded us that Mary took a risk in saying yes to God. Through uncertainty, danger, struggle, sweat and grief, Mary remained faithful. As Betty spoke, I recalled the words of David Bosch about acting with humble boldness in mission. We step out in mission, through uncertainty, through struggle, through danger, always remembering that God's faithfulness will carry us through. We act with BOLD Humility. Bosch's words capture well the hopes discussed at UMW Assembly - collaboration, partnership, action, justice:
"...we do not have all the answers and are prepared to live within the framework of penultimate knowledge, that we regard our involvement in dialogue and mission as an adventure, are prepared to take risks, and are anticipating surprises as the Spirit guides us into fuller understanding. This is not opting for agnosticism, but for humility. It is, however, a bold humility - or a humble boldness. We know only in part but we do know. And we believe that the faith we profess is both true and just, and should be proclaimed. We do this, however, not as judges or lawyers, but as witnesses; not as soldiers, but as envoys of peace; not as high pressure salespersons, but as ambassadors of the Servant Lord."
I am blessed and inspired by Bosch's words and by the dedicated mission and witness of United Methodist Women, who have been organizing for mission for nearly 150 years. May their vision and commitment for continued mission with all God's people be a blessing to all.
Bosch, David J. Transforming Mission: paradigm shifts in theology of mission. Maryknoll, NY:Orbis Books. 1991.
Quote from page 489