Patrick Clark ’09 Ph.D.

When I started teaching Sunday school, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I would spend Saturday afternoons researching topics, making detailed lesson plans, and printing out illustrated handouts.

All too aware of the importance, I fretted over whether the students were growing in their faith. Looking back, I see how overwrought my effort was and how harried I must have seemed to the kids.
The problem was not that I was taking the job too seriously but that I presumed I was doing it mostly on my own. And so, while I might have conveyed accurate information, I doubt that I engendered a deep sense of peace.

To be an apostle means to be sent out on a mission. Every Christian is an apostle since every Christian is tasked with bringing Christ’s peace and healing to the world. But Jesus never sends anyone out alone; his apostles can only accomplish their mission side-by-side with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ metaphor of harvesting also implies that someone was there before, planting and tending and that the apostle’s job is only a tiny part of a much bigger project. This project’s center is peace: not only giving peace to others but also cultivating peace within ourselves.

Jesus reveals the secrets of this peace: radical faith, joyful perseverance, humble acceptance of our limits and failures, and the assurance that one is never working alone. We go out to harvest what the Lord has already prepared, and in doing so, we also go ahead of the Lord, anticipating what he will continue to do in people’s lives long after we are gone.

We neither initiate nor complete the work of God’s kingdom; we can only perform our small role in a much bigger and more beautiful plan than we can imagine.