i thank You God for most this amazing…

i thank You God for most this amazing

by e.e. cummings

i thank you God for most this amazing
day :for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky ;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday ;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings :and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any — lifted from the no
of all nothing — human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Introduction to Setomaa

This weekend our family drove down to Tartu to hang out with Märt and Grete Saar. In spite of a sleepless night while Maddie cut teeth, we had a very refreshing time together with the Saars. Märt is the leader of the Estonian mission organization KOMA which is closely related to Josiah Venture. Märt has developed a very effective model of missional youth discipleship in Estonia that focuses on equipping, encouraging and training youth in a handful of regional churches throughout the year and then giving them opportunities to exercise their faith in evangelistic summer youth camps.

On Sunday morning, Märt and I traveled down to the small Selise congregation in Setumaa to share in worship and get a sense of the missional task in their region. This summer, Märt and some of his youth will be serving alongside the folks in Selise in a rural mission outreach to the people of Setumaa. This region is entirely distinct within Estonia with its own dialect, dress, traditions (polyphonic singing!), and animistic religion. The Selise congregation is most certainly God’s answer to this missional task and they have taken to it with great vigor and vim.

As Märt and I shared on Sunday, I thought of how curious it was that God had put us together on this assignment. Both of us have been gripped by a vision for missionally engaged churches, though our emphasis and our giftings are quite different. Taken together, I felt like our respective messages together presented both personal and corporate responsibility for local mission and that we were able to make some modest contributions to Selise’s missional self-development.

This morning I came across this quote from a post by Brad Brisco on the Missional Church Network that reminded me our motivation for the weekend’s visits:

It is important to make clear that the church is a vital part of the missional conversation. However, the church must not be seen simply as an entity that sends missionaries; as admirable as sending and supporting missionary activity might be. Instead, we must recognize that the purpose of the church is derived from the very nature of a sending, missionary God, which in turn compels it to be sent as a missionary people, both individually and collectively.

I’m looking forward to more partnership with Märt. This is a guy who gets that vision and is making significant contributions to seeing it take flesh in Estonia’s churches.

President Ilves on Estonia

“For the visitor unfamiliar with Estonia, the smallness and flatness of the country can be deceptive. Like the taciturn and reticent Estonians, the subdued landscape, with its absence of emotionally dramatic vistas and panoramatic heights, recalls in the late 20th century an earlier time, quieter and more spare, where there simply were fewer people in the world, where things were quieter and nature, rather deceptively, more pervasive. Nature in Estonia does not intrude on the consciousness through drama, but through its sheer presence. One does not need a Mont Blanc, a Grand Canyon or the Rhine river valley to be struck by Nature. A quiet meadow, a primeval forest, a spawning island for Baltic Sea seals, all quietly assert the primacy of Nature over human artifice.”

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, quoted in the Regio Road Atlas, 1998.