I was sitting in a meeting the other day, and my attention was grabbed by a box – a video-projector box – lying in the corner of the room. What actually intrigued me were the words on the box: “EPSON. Exceed your vision”. That made me think of our vision for the church, and that, with every effort, we seek to fulfil it the best we can; it never occurred to me that we could aim to exceed it, to go beyond that which we deem doable. This may be because we think of vision in terms of programmes and events, and often disregard the eternal dimension of mission, that which seeks to reach beyond the here and now, beyond the grave, beyond the sun, beyond the comprehensible.
At this time of the year, it is good to revisit some of the lessons learned; I’ll mention two: (1) suffering and frustration don’t come out beautiful – when we ‘risk’ to give people a voice, what they have to say may not always be pretty and affirming; but, how else are we to learn of what people, especially young people in our churches, think and believe about the church they, sometimes, desperately want to hang on to?; and (2) we need to move at the speed of trust – a plan and a vision cannot be carried out by oneself, and unless there is trust, mediated by communication, the best of ideas and intentions wither and die unfulfilled.
This year has been a year full of activity in the Irish Mission. We’ve been busy. We’ve grown; I’d like to believe that we’ve grown in compassion and grace as much as we’ve grown in numbers and knowledge. But the question is, Have we exceeded our vision? Have we gone beyond that which we have envisaged at the start of the year? Have others been awed by the awesomeness of God at work in us? Has the busyness made us more intense and tense, or has it helped us find new ways of freedom and repose in Him? These may very well be my own questions, but you may want to appropriate them to your own spiritual inventory.
Christmas time is a time of cheer and goodwill; the end of the year is often marked by optimism into an unknown wished to be better than the past. I invite you all to tap into this positiveness, but not just for a season; rather, to release faith so that it shapes a vision which exceeds expectations and which goes beyond the here and now’s realities, as joyful or as painful as they may be, pulling us through to that which God has already set before us: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
 1 Corinthians 2:9