I just got back from seeing Jimmy Buffett at Jazz Fest 2015, so I’ll open up this newsletter with a line from a favorite Jimmy Buffett song, “I’ve got a bartender ear, a beachcomber style, piratical nerve, and a vaudevillian style . . .” (Schoolboy Heart). It’s that “piratical nerve” line that reminds me so much of what it meant to grow up as I did as the son of a missionary.
Growing up as the son of the missionary, I knew that we were a different part of the Church. We were the Church on the frontiers, the Church that had to have some nerve to it, the Church that needed to be somewhat piratical in its nature. The missionary pastors I grew up with might as well have had JollyRogers embroidered onto their liturgical vestments. They were radically iconoclastic, necessarily pragmatic, and adept enough for adventure.
But most importantly, they had a sense about them that I’ve encountered most clearly in Acts 5 when the disciples are beaten and go home “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name.” They had this sense of being tied to the Cross so closely, that they themselves sometimes found themselves wondering how they got into the Holy Spirit predicaments that they wound up in.
This past Sunday, Rev. Mark Rabe preached here about his call to be a missionary to Ethiopia. We have also heard in the past from Rev. Dale Kaster who has been in Ghana for a little over a year now. These men and their families are following that call to be tied closely to the Cross.
That sense of being tied to the Cross is what we believe about missions work. We believe that God works through human beings, and that human beings are His Church – His Body. That Body then, goes out to do His work. His Body works all over the world, and sometimes that means that some of those human beings take very long flights and learn very strange languages in order to fulfill being His Body.
But we are that Body too. We are that Church too. And at times, I think we could use a little bit of that “piratical nerve” ourselves. It’s fully accessible to us, because we are tied together with Christ and His Cross. We are missionaries alongside Rev. Rabe and Rev. Kaster. We are the people of God and the Body of Christ. He has won us.
Having watched a bunch of pirate movies, that is how you become a pirate, you get boarded and you get invited onto the ship. So with the disclaimer that you shouldn’t read too much into this – Our Lord Jesus Christ is our Chief Pirate, our Captain, who has boarded us and taken us aboard His ship. You’re a pirate now. Act like one.