This Lenten study book, published by the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM), is a gem.
It is certainly timely to focus on the Acts of the Apostles as the follow up to its preceding volume, Luke’s Gospel, from which most of last year’s Sunday Gospel readings were taken.
The scripture reflections in this resource explore the gritty reality of mission with compelling and challenging examples from real mission work, and their applications to mission in Australian society and everyday life. Though fitting the Lenten liturgical structure, it has application beyond the Lenten season and is suitable for use any time of the year.
Written by two self-professed “middle-aged, middle-class white guys”, Stephen Daughtry and Matthew Anstey, at “Campfire in the Heart” (Alice Springs), they focus perceptively and deeply on the Anglican Consultative Council’s Five Marks of Mission. The authors pull no punches.
In their introduction, they acknowledge that Acts is “full of wonders”, and also tells the story “of a brand new church stumbling into being and it’s not all pretty”. Acts portrays “the real, messy, glorious world of human beings facing massive changes to what they believed and how they were to live.” They offer us these studies “because we believe that God’s mission is an invitation to participate in the adventure of the ‘now but not yet’ kingdom.”
The first five studies each has a passage from Acts, followed by a reflection, questions, and a reference to a related Mark of Mission. The sixth and final study (on Paul shipwrecked on Malta) is titled ‘The hospitality of strangers’ and cites “Another imperative of mission”. This imperative is drawn from the World Council of Churches: “to listen to the voices from the margins to hear what is life-affirming and life-destroying…” Its thought focus is written by Bishop Chris McLeod, our National Aboriginal Bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia.
Each study invites participants to optionally explore an area of ABM’s work, via reference to its website, and to listen to a YouTube music clip.
These are not the sort of Bible studies where texts are marshalled and compared to other texts to merely enhance Bible knowledge. They focus on Acts and drill down to the core issues, experiences, concepts, and implications for the mission it evokes. The study aims to help us take Scripture so seriously that it deeply confronts our own discipleship.
I particularly valued the unexpected connection (Study Three) of ABM providing a grain mill in an impoverished Filipino village: “I felt as if I were the Ethiopian Eunuch and the village was Philip, mysteriously appearing along my journey…I felt I had been baptised into a new understanding of how God was present and at work in redeeming the world through the mission of the church, both imminent and transcendent”.
And Study Six, connecting the “unusual kindness” of the Wontulp-Bi-Buya College folk with “the deep work of ‘mission’”, which is “sometimes to unsettle and to stir examination of where God has been with us, where God is now, and what God is asking today.”
I commend this study book highly for this Lent or for whenever you need to look carefully at the call of missional discipleship.
Where do we go from here? is available as a printed book. Please visit the Anglican Board of Mission website to order your copy now or to preview an online version of the study.Jump to next article