No, I haven't lost my rag and decided to swear at my PC, or the world, it is one of the titles used by one of the speakers at today's Small Churches day at Didcot. The logic was, as I recall it, the Greek word for 'witness' (noun) is, in anglicised form, 'martyr', and martyrs as we think of them are people who shed their blood for their cause, so mission is about witnessing, about shedding blood, about bleeding (at least metaphorically) in the cause of the Kingdom.
In one sense, today didn't tell me anything new: I am now an experienced small church minister, I know the centrality of mission, of knowing and understanding your community, have preached til I'm blue in the face about mission as the reason the church exists... I know about the limits and opportunities of being a small church, I know about the tensions, I know where the BUC guidelines are and even have most of the books they showed us (though for some reason were not selling the Toolbox for Small Churches). The best part for me was the presentation of the ideas for moving Home Mission forward in ways that will make the whole thing more effective - though it will be some time before that is able to find expression because of the necessary wheels grinding their way forward.
This is the passage that I wish had been used in the opening worship session...
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brither Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for the were fishermen. "Come, follow me, " Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men and women," At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matt: 4: 18-20, NIVi)
What was used was, granted, a more pedantically correct translation of the Greek, but not the intent... and when we are supposedly a fully inclusive communiity (discuss!) and when we want to attract people who have not grown up with gendered langauge as 'normative' it is time we - and especially those in corridors of power - got our heads around this issue. Ten years ago I'd never have believed I'd be a strong advocate of inclusive language... but then this time ten years ago I was still a few days from hearing God call me to ordained ministry - a lot's happened since then.
Yesterday I was involved in some Association work where we picked out as key issues topics of small and tiny churches, women ministers and the multi-racial, mutli-cultural, multi-faith dimension of working in our part of our Association. Bleeding mission - being sacrificial witnesses to the Good News of Jesus is a massive task. In some ways I feel that EMBA is small church writ large - compare our geographical area, membership and staffing levels with other Associations and you see what I mean.
It has been a good, if tiring, couple of days, and it doesn't get any easier from here to Christmas. We were reminded today that at Christmas we recall how God does small, weak and vulnerable - a baby born to a couple far from home; how God speaks through people outside the 'church' and outside our faith - shepherds and magi; how mission is risky - Herod's massacre, Jesus, Mary & Joseph exile to Egypt; etc etc.
I think, on balance, it was a worthwhile day, a good two days, in which I have begun to see more clearly some of what God might be saying to me about my role in the Missio Dei - the mission of God - in Dibley, Leciestershire, EMBA and the ends of BUGB!