The Missional Theology and Practice of the Holy Eucharist Demand that God's Transfigured People Fulfill the Missio Del

Thumbnail Image
Elliott, Michael George
Issue Date
School of Theology Thesis 2015 , School of Theology, Sewanee, Tennessee , School of Theology, University of the South , Missio del , God's mission , Principles of the Kingdom of God , Holy Eucharist , Transformation of the world
The church’s purpose has always been to carry out God’s mission (the missio Dei) in the world, proclaiming, and working for the building up of the kingdom of God. As Robert Linthicum points out in his book Building a People of Power: Equipping Churches to Transform Their Communities, Jesus sought to initiate, in humanity, the reign or kingdom of God, God’s shalom––God’s vision for human society. This kingdom of God is to be brought about by God’s people, seeking peacefully but shrewdly to re-form a society on the Jubilee principles of a reversal of fortune; where wealth is equitably distributed, poverty is eliminated, all politics are just, and all are reconciled to each other because all are reconciled with God (2 Cor. 5:19-20). As such, God’s people should personify and demonstrate by their lifestyle and behavior, their transfigured lives through their worship of and commitment to God. Our churches need to learn from Jesus, how he demonstrated the principles of the kingdom of God which he proclaimed and hence how tackled the power structures of his day that threatened the manifestation of that kingdom. When this is meaningfully and practically done by our congregations, then the proclamation of the gospel will find relevance in the lives of those outside of the church (and also for many within it). ii Consequently this thesis puts forward the point that God’s people worship a God who calls them into union with God’s self through (baptism and) their participation in the Holy Eucharist. As the body of Christ, God’s people participate in the Holy Eucharist such that their transfigured lives, work together for the total transformation of the world––its peoples, systems and structures––into what God intended it to be: the Kingdom of God. Having understood and participated in the Holy Eucharist, this act of worship by its very nature and meaning sends God’s people out into the world as it is, to renew or re-form the world into the kingdom of God, thereby fulfilling the missio Dei. Using Linthicum’s theology of power, this thesis further asserts that churches should seek to transform themselves in order to transform the societies, the communities in which they are placed or find themselves. This is suggested through the use of relational power as a strategy by which the church is to transform itself through relational meetings and, having done so, to work in concert with other churches and organizations to bring about the transformation of their communities. It is through the use of relational power, (and community organizing) that the Kingdom of God, God’s shalom, in the communities, towns or cities where they are can be established. Of course this is not the world we currently live in. This is the world as God intended it to be––the kingdom of God. The world that the Scriptures challenge and mandate the Church to work toward. Subsequently, this thesis puts forward the use of relational power among congregations in order that those congregations will transform themselves––be strengthened in all facets of its life––and so be better enabled to go out into the world as it is to transform it into the world as God intends it to be. iii [This work is conceived primarily within an Episcopal/Anglican context drawing upon research found mainly among Episcopal/Anglican and Roman Catholic resources but not limited to them.]