I recently had opportunity to hear someone discussing the movement of the Spirit... literally. This person was keenly sharing how the Spirit has called some people into mission, and was celebrating those folks who have picked up their whole lives and moved in order to do mission. "They do it so well" was gushed. How exciting!
...and yet, it was also enough to give me pause. Because the person speaking was using we/they terms. We are just clergy, they are missionaries! We are just in the parish, they are out in the mission field! We are just stationary, they are being led by the Spirit to move!
My personal bias floated to the surface. As someone who has moved, I know what it's like to pack the boxes, to struggle through tearful good-byes, to ignore nervous butterflies as I meet new friends and neighbours, to delight in making 'home' in a new community.
And I can tell you that each time such a move has happened, it is because I have felt strongly called into the exercise of parish ministry; to participate in God's mission within a church and community as a parish priest.
So while the speaker was enthusing over the folks who dare to be moved by the Spirit, they inadvertently overlooked (and discredited) everyone else who has moved - and not just the "stationary" "parish" "clergy" (because we do engage in exciting mission work, I assure you!) Anyone who has uprooted their families and their lives to follow God's call - whether it's in the same city or across the globe - will tell you how much gets stirred up by the Spirit. Likewise, there is an excitement to discerning a call by God to continue in their place and space, as their work in God's mission has not yet been completed.
I reflect that this will be a reminder to recognise that there is no we/they when it comes to God's mission; we're all in this together. I invite us all to embrace how the Spirit has caused many to move - for seasonal employment, for transitioning careers, for educational opportunities, for new stages of life. I hope we can all be faithful in discerning how God is calling us to be active, to move, to engage in the work of God's mission.