I used this prayer-poem as we concluded the series on the marks of mission – the ways in which God calls us to work in his world.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
It is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
Of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
That the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith,
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness,
No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
Knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation
in realising that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Prayer of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, 1917-1980, quoted in valdir Raul Steuernagel, To Seek to Transform Unjust Structures of Society (i), pages 75-76 in Mission in the 21st Century (2008), edited by Andrew Walls and Cathy Ross