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September 2012

Movement and mission

The Christian church is, by its very character, migrant. I'm surprised by the power and simplicity of this testimony throughout the pages of Scripture. Our witness as people of God seems to gain clarity and force when we are in movement, following a path, away from home—in a word, when we are migrant. And it's amazing how often one of the people of God are on the move in Scripture: Abraham, Moses, the children of Israel in the wilderness, the Exile, Ruth, Jesus, the Disciples and Paul (to name a few). Why is it that we do some of our best work as witnesses to Christ when we are dislocated as pilgrims, sojourners, aliens and missionaries?

In contrast, and not surprisingly, people on the move revel in finally finding a home. In Scripture, that "home" can be represented as the promised land, a new temple, a mountain (Zion), a return to one's homeland (e.g. Naomi), to one's "home" town (e.g. Nazareth) or to one's home congregation. "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God ..." (Ephesians 2:19).

So Scripture sets up this interesting contrast between established places and changing places, between rest and movement, between being at home and being migrant.

At Luther Seminary, we definitely know about being on the move, being migrant. We are committed to building up our infrastructure to better serve our students. Our strategic plan today involves rebuilding many buildings on campus, including Bockman Hall and new student housing. This fall has even witnessed our students having to move out of Bockman into housing that is more supportive of living and learning for our students and their families. Talk about dislocation!

But as we try to build a home away from home for equipping Christian leaders at Luther Seminary, our goal finally is to prepare these leaders for movement. "Go, therefore!" As church leaders, we are indeed a pilgrim people. Aliens (Acts 7:6). Sojourners (Hebrews 11:9). Exiles (I Peter 2:11). Missionaries (Luke 10). In a fascinating way, it's when we share our stories of migrancy, of missionary movement and of dislocation that we discover a fascinating dimension of God's call into ministry: the relationship between being a missionary people and being migrant.

Movement:  It's one of the secrets of mission.

This month we welcomed more than 200 new students to Luther Seminary. These students are coming from all over the world to attend Luther. They are in movement. At Luther, they will find a home. They will gain many things, including more confidence in God's call on their lives to be leaders. Then they will hear the Spirit's voice to move again. "Go therefore ..."  Keep these students in your prayers. God is moving in their lives. This spiritual movement will lead to another movement: a call to mission. 

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