Reading Reggie McNeal's Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church has me thinking about the renewal of the mission of the Church in our day. That renewal has to do with understanding ourselves as the Body of Christ doing ministry in Christ's name in the world; bringing blessing and challenge. This is nothing new, of course. Our calendar as Episcopalians is full of examples of those who "got" this; who knew that Church was not a private club for the saved, but a body of people called to reconciling and restorative work in the world in the name of Jesus Christ. Take Queen Margaret of Scotland, for example, about whom we read:
"...Now and then she helped herself to something or other out of the King’s private property, it mattered not what it was, to give to a poor person; and this pious plundering the King always took pleasantly and in good part. It was his custom to offer certain coins of gold upon Maundy Thursday and at High Mass, some of which coins the Queen often devoutly pillaged, and bestowed on the beggar who was petitioning her for help. Although the King was fully aware of the theft, he generally pretended to know nothing of it, and felt much amused by it. Now and then he caught the Queen in the very act, with the money in her hand, and laughingly threatened that he would have her arrested, tried, and found guilty. Nor was it towards the poor of her own nation only that she exhibited the abundance of her cheerful and open-hearted charity, but those persons who came from almost every other nation, drawn by the report of her liberality, were the partakers of her bounty. . . . "
From The Life of St Margaret, Queen of Scotland by Turgot, Bishop of St Andrews, edited by William Forbes-Leith, S.J., third edition (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1896).