In Baptism, we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.” This introduction to the six-week series,”5 Marks of Love,” from the Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, invites you to participate in God’s mission.
Transcript: Hello, and welcome to our six-week program entitled The Five Marks of Love.
I’ve always been moved by the sacrament of Holy Baptism. At the moment of the baptism, the priest takes into his or her arms the infant, baptizes them with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and then dips a finger in holy oil and makes the sign of the cross on the baby’s forehead. And as he or she makes the sign of the cross on the baby’s forehead, the priest recites these words, “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.” In baptism, God claims us as God’s own children and tells us that we are beloved. We are joined with the family of faith, the Church, the Body of Christ in the world, and we are incorporated into the life and the mission of God in the world.
God’s mission could be described in a number of ways. Jesus came proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God – a different sort of kingdom in which the first were last and the last first, in which we were called not to be masters but to be servants, in which the ideal is to lay down our lives for one another in love.
In 1984, the Anglican Communion identified Five Marks of Mission – five activities that are characteristic of the work of the Church in the world. These are really five characteristics of God’s mission in the world, because God is mission and all mission originates from God and from God’s love. The Five Marks of Mission that the Anglican Church identified were: first, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God; second, teaching, baptizing, and nurturing new believers; third, responding to human need by loving service; fourth, transforming unjust structures, challenging violence of every kind, and pursuing peace and reconciliation; and fifth, striving to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustaining and renewing the life of the earth.
We’ll be taking each of these Marks of Mission and spending a week kind of spinning them out and reflecting on them. But before we do that, this week will be a week of introduction in which we will just talk about the nature of mission, to underscore that mission comes from God. It’s God’s mission, not the Church’s mission. It’s God’s mission. And the Church, Christians, believers, are invited to participate in that mission and carry out that mission with God. But it is God who initiates and God who leads the mission.
And so our stance first of all in coming to these Marks of Mission is to come in the spirit of listening and receptivity. We want to hear God’s voice. We want to know God’s mind. We want to discern God’s will in these areas before we act. And so we want to stress the importance of prayer, and of worship, and of our deep connection with God as the source of the life that leads us to manifest these various Marks of Mission.
Well, welcome to our study. Each day you will receive an email video from one of the brothers. And at the end of the week, a sample exercise is contained in the workbook (that you can download from the web or that you can purchase). In the exercise at the end of the week on Saturday, we’ll give you a chance to put into practice some of your thoughts and ideas and to be prepared to share those with others. Welcome again to this program and God bless you all as you meditate with us on these marks of God’s life within us.
– Br. David Vryhof
Slowly writing out our words of love for another person can be a meditative practice that connects us in a deep way. This week, spend some time hand-writing a letter to God. What would you say? How might you express your love for God in words?