Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Year A Proper 6 2020 Sending Us Out

Year A Proper 6, 14 June 2020

Video Service from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA

“Sending Us Out”


Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Matthew 9:35-10:23

Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

Good morning! So glad to have you with us today! Today we are going to be taking a look at the pep talk, the Coach’s huddle, whatever you want to call that Jesus gave to his followers before he sent them out. There are still some rules that make total sense, and some we dismiss at our detriment. I would encourage you to look at them closely. They are not hard to understand. But, they are hard to do.

But today I want to zero in on how we are supposed to be about the work at hand. Jesus speaks to our attitude and our responses to being wronged. One of the axioms of life I hold to, is that most people assume that they are the normal. Even a mentally disturbed person assumes that they are normal. Liars think most people are liars. Cheats think most people are cheats. Jeffrey Dahmer thought he was normal. Upbeat positive people think that most people are upbeat and positive. When those bubbles get burst we see cynics emerge. And Jesus gives us a good warning. A Rock paraphrase here, this is not from the Greek:

If you follow the instructions I have given you, people will think you are naive fools. They may be a bunch of skunks I am sending you into, but don’t let their stink get on you.

Now Jesus’ words were about sheeps and wolves, snakes and doves. And what Jesus is telling us is know how to play the game, and do not follow those rules. In other words, do not sink to the level of those who need to see a way out.

One of the huge turning points in the evangelization of the Roman Empire, when they tortured the Christians publicly and fed them to the lions, even, they were not afraid. Even at the point of death, these new believers had something unknown, unheard of to most Roman citizens. They had hope. And in the heart of every human being is a longing for hope. So much of the fear I hear bandied about these days stems from that very fact, people do not have hope. 

I quote this a lot, but even if I said it daily it would not be enough. From Hebrews 11: 1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

When Jesus was sending his apostles out, he basically told them to have faith. When we have our Stewardship campaigns yearly, at least while I have been here, we have said to have faith. When we roll over in the night with our worries, we have been told to have faith.

Don Bruce, one of our own whose birthday happens to be today, told me once how when he could not go to sleep he started saying the Jesus Prayer we did as part of our Lenten Series two Lents back. You do it with your breathing, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, Have Mercy, On Me, A Sinner. And he said, sure enough, he just went back to sleep. 

When I had my surgery, the nurse took my blood pressure, then took it again, then had someone else take it. She asked me what it normally was, and it is right where it should be most of the time, but it was not elevated at all! She asked me, “You do realize you are about to have surgery, right? Most people’s blood pressure is pretty elevated right before they go in.” Now what she did not realize was that I had been doing my Jesus prayer for about twenty minutes, holding onto that faith even more because I felt anxious. I now have biomedical evidence, prayer works. Faith works. Feelings are fleeting; Faith, real, true, dyed in the wool faith, lasts now, tomorrow, and forever.

Friends, we have been sent out. We have been asked to have faith when we are out. We have been asked to keep playing by the rules we have been taught, not to lower ourselves to the skunks and their stink. But even in the midst of them, we can shine the light of faith that we have. People notice. I wish I could show you the look on my nurse’s face from that day! Jesus warns us that things could get bad, but know this, our side wins. God will be glorified. Your faith plus God is bigger than ANYTHING you could ever face. Thanks be to God! Amen

[Dramatically walk camera out the door of the Church]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi! Thanks for wanting to comment. Please add it here, and after a moderator reviews it, it will be posted if appropriate. Look forward to hearing your opinion.
Blessings, Rock