Musings on messengers (a prelude to Trinity Sunday)

Dinka ground breaking
Yours truly (right), sent to bless the ground breaking for a Dinka family’s (dad on left) new home in South Dakota.

The Dinka title for the Book of Acts is Dutuuc (DuTOOCH), from a root meaning messenger or someone sent.

This captures the sense of the New Testament Greek apostolos. The church is apostolic, we say in the Nicene Creed. We are sent out by Christ, to make his appeal to the world.

A Dinka pastor friend explained to me, It means we are sent out to bring others in.  Jesus sends us out to bring others into the church.

I wonder if that is informed by the Dinka identity formed in cattle herding.  It would resonate, in that sense, with shepherding images of God such as Psalm 23, John 10 and Luke 15:1-7.

But what first came into my mind was John 20:21,

Jesus said to them again,“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (ESV)

Jesus was sent (apestalken in NT Greek) – that is, he was “apostleized” – and now he sends us.  But there is a big difference –

He is the one fully sent by God, the only complete apostle, according to John.  His mission is eternal, and we are sent temporarily.  The Greek used in so I am sending you is pempoa word of temporary sending like “run an errand” or, physically, “to thrust in.”  John emphasizes this by emphasizing the word disciple and avoiding the title apostle in his Gospel’s references to the members of the church.

The Son is the eternal expression (Logos) of the Father, as John preaches so beautifully in his first chapter.  Through the gift of the Holy Spirit (20:22) we are included, albeit in mortal expression, in the life and work of the Holy Trinity.

The Son is eternally begotten of the Father, says the Creed.  And we are mortal, formed of the dust, and to dust we shall return.  Yet we are thrust, full of life in the Holy Spirit, into a dying world as messengers of the eternal Word, that others will come with us to share his eternal life.


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