Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Year B 1st Epiphany WED 2021 Called to Faith
Year B 1st Epiphany WEDNESDAY, 13 January 2021
Video Service from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Called to Faith”
Collect: Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
After this the Lord appointed seventy others 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 his 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 greet 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, it 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 say 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. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!"
I love this story, this sending out. That is what an apostle is, one who is sent. We are apostles, just like these original 70.
In the world that is, we need to remember that our faith is found in going out. Our faith is found in having to rely on faith, not work or preparation or trust funds or whatever. We have to trust in God, that is faith.
Think of how radical these instructions are from Jesus:
Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!'
Go, and I will be with you. Some will be with you, and will be blessed. Some will be against you, and it is not you. It is them. Your blessing will remain, just not with them. And that is not on you.
Somewhere along the way, especially here in America, we have equated blessing with success. Here it is very clear, God calls us to FAITH, never to SUCCESS. I cannot tell you how many a deflated fellow minister or faith leader I have had to remind of this over the years. Sometimes even myself. The Prosperity Gospel is so ubiquitous, and so heretical.
I saw a funny joke the other day, it had a picture of Jeff Bezos who owns most of Amazon. And it said, “The richest man in the world does not have hair. Let no one tell you there is a cure for baldness.” Our responsibility is faith. There is no cure for that. We do not want one. Success is a temptation, like hair for a bald man.
There are a lot of things we think we can control. But it all comes back to faith. We have to lean on those promises from God and know that God is with us in and through it all. It is especially important in these days.
Harrison, in his sermon on Sunday, talked about how strange it is to preach to an empty room. We cast our bread on the water, and trust it will return. That is faith. We toss our sermons on the internet. That is faith. You do a kindness for a neighbor or a complete stranger. That is faith. Friends, when we take tentative, risky first steps, that is faith. And Jesus is with us. We take these steps in faith, but if it is not received, THAT IS OKAY! God sees our faith, not our results. Any results are God’s anyways.
Monday night, we were working on our budget, and talk about a step of faith. We are stepping into the unknown, looking back to see how God has been with us in the past, and will be in the future. That is our calling. That is our hope.
Step out on faith, friends. God is with you! Amen.