Praying for and with our enemies ought to be right up there as a Christian discipline. But it's not.
Over on Episcopal News Service there is a fine post about outgoing missionaries of The Episcopal Church. "Ten Episcopal Church missionaries embark on international mission placements," tells a good and hopeful story about the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) (that's us Episcopalians) training and sending out missionaries to El Salvador, Hong Kong, Honduras, the Church of North India, Japan, South Africa, Mexico, and the Republic of Congo. We ought to pray for these missionaries and others sent out in service by missionary organizations, and for those they serve.
REACHOUT, "The bulletin of New Wineskins Missionary Network" sends out a regular prayer list of missionaries. I've gotten this newsletter for years and in days gone by would look at the list and there, among others from SAMS and Anglican Fronteer Missions, etc, I would find those sent as Volunteers for Mission and Appointed Missionaries from the DFMS. Now, that is no longer true. The "Prayer Calendar" no longer lists DFMS missionaries. It lists "Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders" (SAMS new form), Anglican Frontier Missions, Global Teams, Other agencies, Tentmakers, Wycliffe Bible Translators, but not DFMS folk.
For some reason DFMS folk have been dropped from recognition or prayer. Too bad. Sad.
What happened? Did the New Wineskins Missionary Network decide that DFMS missionaries could not be carriers of the Good News, or missionaries of the faith? Apparently so. Or perhaps they drew back from praying for Episcopalians because they are not involved with the Episcopal Church anymore. Their claim is to be "a voluntary society helping Anglicans in the USA to be more knowledgeable, active and effective in world missions." They are listed by the Anglican Church in North America as "Mission partners" of the ACNA. So are some of the organizations they have on their prayer list. Ah, that's it. They can't pray for us and pray for ACNA related folk at the same time.
Well that puts the whole thing in perspective. They chose to go with ACNA and believe that a long tradition of praying for DFMS missionaries (and the Mission staff at the Church Center) is no longer possible. It turns out that praying for or with one's enemies is not so easy for New Wineskins.
Why do I get this newsletter? Because I read the names of all those out there as missionaries and imagine them in Kenya, and Alaska, and downtown Boston, and where ever, and I say, God bless them and their work for and with others. I read the list from the ENS news story and say the same. Let us bless those who serve in the name of the Lord and not forget or lose their names.
Meanwhile, even if it is praying for our enemies, surely that beats simply crossing them off the list.