What Is the Difference between Missions and Evangelism?

What do all these words mean? That will greatly help us understand the commission given to Christians to “go and make disciples…teaching them to observe”. And particularly, we need to look at the difference between missions and evangelism.

Missions. Think of the word missive, as in ‘to send out a missive’. It is ‘to send’, which would mean it carries the same meaning as “apostle”, ‘one sent out’. A disciple is a learner, but the Disciples became Apostles when they were sent out. So, missions is when someone is sent. A missionary is the person who was sent. “Mission parish” is a small problem, unless we think of it only as a parish established in a place that required the Church to stretch out and develop a parish in a new place; that could be seen as ‘sending’, I guess.

How is that different from “evangelism”?…

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What Was the Gospel before the Gospel?

Trick question for you: what does it mean to “preach the gospel”? To tell others about the death and resurrection of Christ, right? Then, what did Jesus mean when he said to the disciples of John the Baptist: “‘The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them’”? Jesus was not yet crucified and resurrected. So, what was this gospel they were preaching

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We Determine How Strictly We Are Judged

So much of our society trains us to focus on ourselves, on our rights, and to judge others as respecters or offenders of those rights. This past weekend, in Bend, some alleged social media posts from the shooter who took the life of two innocents revealed this to the extreme. Remembering wrongs others commit against us and the lack of forgiveness is toxic. What we see in Christ’s Gospel is quite the opposite, not focused on the wrongs of others, but on our own spiritual state.

After the story of the man forgiven a massive debt, who turns around and requires someone else to repay him a much smaller debt, resulting in his re-judgment with the same harshness he used, the passage ends: So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

So, we know what not to do. But what should we do? How should we act?

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Why Fast?

Our Lord began his ministry with a fast, and addressed fasting not with an indifference of saying  “if you fast”; rather teaching his disciples with the words “when you fast . . . ”

Matthew 6:16-18

16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

In the previous post, we have instruction on Great Lent and the fast, but it is important that we continue to explore the deeper meaning of the fast by hearing from the Fathers of the Church.

St John Chrysostom says:

Fasting is a medicine.   Fasting is the change of every part of our life,  . . .  Are you fasting? Show me your fast with your works. Which works?

  • If you see someone who is poor, show him mercy.
  • If you see an enemy, reconcile with him.
  • If you see a friend who is becoming successful, do not be jealous of him!
  • If you see a beautiful woman on the street, pass her by.

In other words, not only should the mouth fast, but the eyes and the legs and the arms and all the other parts of the body should fast as well.

Let the hands fast, remaining clean from stealing and greediness.
Let the legs fast, avoiding roads which lead to sinful sights.
Let the eyes fast by not fixing themselves on beautiful faces and by not observing the beauty of others. You are not eating meat, are you? You should not eat debauchery with your eyes as well.
Let your hearing also fast. The fast of hearing is not to accept bad talk against others and sly defamations.
Let the mouth fast from disgraceful and abusive words, because, what gain is there when, on the one hand we avoid eating chicken and fish and, on the other, we chew-up and consume our brothers?

If you cannot go without eating all day because of an ailment of the body, beloved one, no logical man will be able to criticize you for that. Besides, we have a Lord who is meek and loving (philanthropic) and who does not ask for anything beyond our power.  Because . . .

  • He neither requires the abstinence from foods,
  • neither does the fast take place for the simple sake of fasting,
  • neither is its aim that we remain with empty stomachs,

. . .   We fast to offer our entire selves to the dedication of spiritual things, having distanced ourselves from secular things.  So, if there are some . .  .  who are hindered by somatic* ailments and cannot remain without food, I advise them to nullify the somatic ailment and not to deprive themselves from this spiritual teaching, but to care for it even more.

For there exist, there really exist, ways which are even more important than abstinence from food which can open the gates which lead to God with boldness. He, therefore, who eats and cannot fast,

  • let him display richer almsgiving,
  • let him pray more,
  • let him have a more intense desire to hear divine words. In this, our somatic illness is not a hindrance.
  • Let him become reconciled with his enemies,
  • let him distance from his soul every resentment.

If he wants to accomplish these things, then he has done the true fast, which is what the Lord asks of us more than anything else.

To read the full version of this Homily, follow this link

Selections from St. John Chrysostom homilies “On Fasting”

* Somatic: relating to the body, especially as distinct from the mind. and spirit (synonyms: worldly · temporal · secular · mortal · human · mundane · material · nonspiritual · materialistic · carnal · fleshly · bodily · physical · corporal)

Great Lent & Fasting

The season of Great Lent is the time of preparation for the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. It is a time of

  • renewed devotion: of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving,
  • repentance & renewal of our minds, hearts and deeds in conformity with Christ and His teachings,
  • our return to the great commandments of loving God and our neighbors, most of all!

In the Orthodox Church, Great Lent is not a season of morbidity and gloominess. On the contrary, it is a time of joyfulness and purification. We are called to “anoint our faces” and to “cleanse our bodies as we cleanse our souls.” The very first hymns of the very first Vesper service of Great Lent teach us:

Let us begin the lenten time with delight . . . let us fast from passions as we fast from food, taking pleasure in the good words of the Spirit, that we may be granted to see the holy passion of Christ our God and his holy Pascha, spiritually rejoicing.

Thy grace has arisen upon us, O Lord, the illumination of our souls has shown forth; behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the time of repentance.

It is our repentance that God desires, not our remorse. We sorrow for our sins, but we do so in the joy of God’s mercy. We mortify our flesh, but we do so in the joy of our resurrection into life everlasting. We make ready for the resurrection during Great Lent, both Christ’s Resurrection and our own.

Lenten Fasting

Generally speaking, fasting is an essential element of the Christian life. Christ fasted and taught men to fast. Blessed fasting is done in secret, without ostentation or accusation of others (Mt 6.16; Rom 14). It has as its goal the purification of our lives, the liberation of our souls and bodies from sin, the strengthening of our human powers of love for God and man, the enlightening of our entire being for communion with the Blessed Trinity.

The Orthodox rules for lenten fasting are the monastic rules:  No meat, no eggs or dairy products. These rules exist not as a Pharisaic “burden too hard to bear” (Lk 11.46), but as an ideal to be striven for; not as an end in themselves, but as a means to spiritual perfection crowned in love.  However, this is the true fast that is pleasing to the Lord:

  • the casting off of evil,
  • the bridling of the tongue,
  • the cutting off of anger,
  • the cessation of lusts, evil talking, lies and cursing.

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