So do you think that these disciples whom Jesus had just instructed what to do were overjoyed and excited to be sent out to share the good news of Jesus? Probably not. I’m confident in assuming that they felt like how we feel when the opportunity arises to share our faith with friends and neighbors. We get nervous. We are scared they will reject us as religious loonies! We tend to over plan and over think things. We plan a nice lunch for a struggling friend or have a little prepared speech to share with a family member in crisis. We just try too hard…
In today’s scripture Jesus tells his disciples – and is essentially telling us – “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals.” We need to let go of the excess, the plan, the prepared speech and just let it flow. Is it scary and nerve wracking? Yes! Does it make us uncomfortable? Yes! Were the disciples comfortable being sent to towns where no one knew them? Absolutely not! The message of Jesus is not meant to make us comfortable and most definitely will and should take us out of our comfort zones. Just look at the beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the world…” God’s way of doing things is completely backwards from society’s way of doing things.
So don’t be discouraged if loved ones reject God’s message, or our invitation to church or the offer to pray for them…Do what you can and rejoice knowing that our reward does not come in “seeing” results all the time but our rejoicing comes because our names are written in heaven. We are God’s disciples on earth in today’s time. We are called to share how our faith has helped us. Called to share the love of God and encourage one another long life’s journey. By doing so our faith grows and we are encouraged to keep on sharing.
What are some ways we can share the message of God’s love in our community or to our friends and neighbors? It can be in an indirect way as my sweet Alex pointed out to me yesterday in something as simple as recycling. He is very intent on trying to live a sustainable life, so we do everything we can do by recycling, composite and ditching our plastic straws for stainless steel ones. Will we see the reward and be able to rejoice in that reward in our lifetime? Probably not, but by doing these things in a loving way for future generations and having it come from a pure place we are in a way spreading God’s love and can rejoice knowing that we are doing what we can.
Some may visit our shut ins, volunteer for family promise, offer to babysit the neighbors kids so the new mom can get a few hours of sleep, offer a wave or a smile as we pass someone along the sidewalk, call that person we had a disagreement with and extend an olive branch to start anew or simply lend an ear to the person sitting next to us on a Sunday morning who may have had a rough week.
Some of us may be called to be more vocal by standing up for the cast aways in our society. Others are teachers who take that little bit of extra time with their students to show they care. (ad lib story about 4th grade teacher)
Friends, the hardest part is that first step. Just like the disciples had to go to that first house and knock on the door. We need to allow ourselves to be open to share, to listen, to lend a hand or to open our mouth and shout from the street if necessary. We do this because it is God in us who is calling us to share God’s message of hope and salvation. The message of faith and trust in Jesus. We act out of love to others because God did the same for us. Our names are written in heaven – and that is all the reward we need.
By being that light of love to those around us, not only will our community change, but we will be changed also. And friends, that is something we can all rejoice in.
SCRIPTURE FOR JUL 7, 2020 LUKE 10:1-11, 16-20
After Jesus warned his followers, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God, the Lord appointed 70 follows and sent them on ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place where He Himself intended to go.
He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greed no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person. But if not, that peace will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you. Cure the sick who are there, and same to them, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the Kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.”
After going for into the towns as Jesus commanded them, the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in Your name even the demons submit to us!” Jesus said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightening. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Friends, listen to what the Spirit would say to us today.