On one of my flights back home, I watched a documentary about Curiosity, a scientific robot sent to Mars to collect information on whether there is the possibility of life on that planet. What caught my eye were the moments of celebration.
At the time of takeoff, when the Curiosity was finally sent, the scientists and engineers overseeing the project were all expectant. To see Curiosity move into space without problems caused cheers, applause, tears, hugs and plenty of gratitude. The takeoff had been a total success, and the mission was underway.
Then came the moment of arrival on Martian soil. Between the time of Curiosity’s touchdown and the connection with the team members back at NASA’s operations center, there were about 30 minutes of silence. They did not know if the landing was successful or not, if the robot was in good-enough condition to perform the task or if it was damaged. But it finally happened: The signal came on their screens that the landing was a success. Curiosity was alive and ready for the task! And again, as with the takeoff, the place was filled with screams, cheers, hugs, tears and gratitude. It was a party.
Moving from preparation to action involved a moment of great risk; if the scientists failed, they would lose 50 years of research and work, as well as millions of dollars. Under pressure, one of the project leaders said: “The team is ready for this moment and wants to be responsible for the success or the failure of the mission.”
In fact, every day that the Curiosity begins a new day of work to accomplish the task for which it was sent is a new moment of gratitude and celebration at NASA headquarters because, as one of the engineers said, “We can’t know when the Curiosity will die and stop working; what we do know is that every day the Curiosity keeps running, it is a new opportunity to continuing in the mission.”
I started thinking about those called to ministry and our congregations. About that sense of wonder in the church. What happens when we hear good news of how God worked in one of the missionaries, pastors or those of us in spheres of influence within our society? Does this news produce a celebration full of hugs, shouts, tears and gratitude because God has freed us once more to continue another day?
I began to think about how much responsibility we feel for the success and failure of the Great Commission. I began to think about whether we are aware that each new day is another opportunity to stay alive and fulfill the mission of Jesus.
Only when we all—the congregation and the called/sent—take responsibility for the mission, only then can we transform into a community of intercessors, experiencing every intervention of God as a victory for all, causing spontaneous moments of applause, hugs, tears and gratitude for what God has done.
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