Friday, January 25, 2008

First Things: Waking Up to Springtime
By Richard John Neuhaus
Friday, January 25, 2008

It’s a good day to be thinking about the Christian mission, this Day of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Today is also the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an observation that has, regrettably, become more anemic in the last decade or so. In 1990, John Paul the Great issued the encyclical Redemptoris Missio—the Mission of the Redeemer. There he expressed his intuition, his hope, his prayer, that the beginning of the Third Millennium would be a “springtime of world evangelization.”

Something like that may be happening. Consider the explosive growth of Christianity, especially in the Global South. And who knows what will happen when—and surely it is a question of when rather than if—China opens up? Redemptoris Missio tied together Christian mission and Christian unity. And, of course, the tie between mission and unity was the dynamic that launched what is called the modern ecumenical movement at Edinburgh in 1910. Not for nothing was that meeting called the World Missionary Conference. Unity is in the service of mission, which reflects Our Lord’s prayer in John 17 that his disciples may be one so that the world may believe that he is sent by the Father.
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