Planting, Planning and Praying

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

We can go out,

Spread the Good News

We don’t have to be afraid

Because we are never truly alone,

For the presence of the One

Who calls us

To Follow Him

Amen.

(pause)

 

Why are you here

At church this morning?

Or any morning, for that matter.

What fuels your spirit

to be here,

in this community,

Because we are a community of faith,

Gathered

Called

Sent

(pause)

What do you hope

How do you hope,

To be fed

This Sunday morning?

(pause)

Are you still seeking

Answers

Clarity

Comfort from God,

Through gentle hands across the aisle?

Hoping for direction

Strength

So that you can,

Give back

To this ruined world

The essential of the Gospel

This knowing,

That we are never alone

As we share this message

Of Unending Love.

Almost as if,

Coming to the Table

Waiting for those marching orders,

Just as I had,

Along with 32 others

Over a year ago.

(pause)

(Share with the congregation the story about the day of Graduation; as they said these words “Will the Candidates for the Degree of Master of Divinity please stand”. How we were marked and recognized and celebrated in that moment of all the hard work we had done. How we as sisters and brothers in Christ, seminarians no longer, walked down the aisle to be hooded and have this degree confirmed upon us. This spiritual and academic journey was a challenge.)

We however,

as we stumbled and faltered,

in the end

knew that these experiences bound us to one another

Outside the Seminary bubble, gave us pause

This waiting unknown without the support of one another,

How would we be able to respond,

Without one another

When God placed us among the beloved community

Who could be challenged by our dedication,

our drive,

our empowerment,

our energy?

The Gospel infused and enlightened us!

We must live out our call in the public, as the public church and our public witness.

Otherwise, we were not authentic to ourselves,

And to the Creator God

We had to stand unashamed

The Holy Spirit had broken the chains

Loosened us

We were as giddy as the disciples

when they were able to confront and defeat the demonic

in our Gospel text this morning.

The Gospel unraveled in our hands,

We finally would be able to transfer from the abstract

to the concrete

Our knowledge,

Our standing as theologians

We wondered,

In this real world,

Would our congregations,

Our faith communities

Stop, blink, wonder, learn,

Or

Would they,

shake the dust off,

Growing the gap of the abyss?

(pause)

Each moment

Of this life’s journey

Seemingly grows more divisive

Causing us

Desperately,

Turning ourselves,

Towards God

(pause)

And the HOPE PROCLAIMED

In the Good News

Professed over and over again

Until our throats our raw

Until our voices hurt.

(pause)

And to whom?

To our neighbor!

And who is our neighbor?

ANYONE

ANYONE

Who is in need.

Period.

Jesus Christ knew,

The only way that God’s message would reach

Was through us, beloved.

Through our songs,

Our prayers,

Our testimonies.

We,

Beloved

Are called to share that message.

Every moment

Here,

At the table,

Yes I may sound like a broken record

But there is no shame that HERE

At the TABLE

God comes to us

In that mystic, quiet moment

Fed,

From the One whose presence

Still shakes this world.

(pause)

The road to follow Jesus Christ

Is difficult

Because as we heard in the Gospel last week

It is a commitment!

We must forget ourselves

Our sorrows

Follow Jesus Christ

Come with us

To hear about Jesus Christ!

There have been days,

When we could go and knock on our neighbor’s door

And invite them to come to church,

It was so easy, right?

To where there wasn’t a empty pew

Or seat

Anywhere!

But now?

Mention Christianity

Mention church

And suddenly our vision is filled with

Disgruntled faces

Angry glares

Fearful mumbled rejection of our invitation

Because now,

The church,

Struggles with welcoming!

(pause)

It seems,

As a beloved Elder and Mentor

Stated ironically on social media

We, as people of God

Are stuck

In this loyalty to the institution of the church,

And forgotten our loyalty

Forgotten how to follow Jesus.

(pause)

And still,

There is this shift in the atmosphere

Because God never stops

Teaching,

Gathering

Reminding us of our responsibility

This undertaking

To Follow Jesus Christ

Just as these 70 were called to do.

Not just following

But doing as Jesus would have done

Welcoming

Bringing Peace

Remaining in one place

Faithful to a community of people

Living daily as those around them

Contributing to the well being

Healing, elevating, stirring!

(pause)

But

What I find so important,

And even a bit troubling in this Gospel text

Is Verse 11 here in Luke.

(pause)

Shaking off the dust on one’s feet

In ancient times,

Was a sign of rejection-

Yet,

There is no call for forced conversion here,

No direction that these would be people to be shamed

Ridiculed

Simply because they did not welcome the disciples

But that YES

The Kingdom of God is HERE

Letting them know,

Regardless

The Creator GOD

To TRANSFORM

Even the hardest of hearts!

Is this a call for us to reject those,

Who seemingly reject us collectively?

Or are they like the Samaritans

So WEARY of how they have been treated

By those who claim to be holy and faithful to the law

And yet, daily

Reject their fellow sister and brother in Love

Because of the harshness of the law

Forgetting Christ’s commandment

Which SHATTERS the judgement of the law

(pause)

Do we beloved

Sometimes even reject this call from Jesus

To Follow Him

Because we are just tired

Tired of being discouraged,

Because we don’t get a lot of visitors

Our numbers are only 70, or 120

Exhausted of proclaiming and sharing our faith,

Because we get doors slammed in our face

Because people pass by our church on Sunday morning

Drained because doing ministry,

Whether continuing our core

Or trying something new

Means that only a few get involved

And not the whole body of Christ

And so it is we,

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Who are shaking off the dust

When the Holy Spirit comes

(pause)

And yet,

There is encouragement in verse 11

Because the Good News is that,

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NEAR

It’s HERE RIGHT NOW!

God doesn’t abandon us

Even when we flat out reject God!!

Jesus tells us,

The harvest is plentiful!

There are people who need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ!

That God Loves

Because God sent God’s Son!

God does indeed heal us,

Sometimes unexpectedly

God hears our prayers,

And walks with us

And refuses to GIVE UP ON US!!

(pause)

Think about this-

Because of the persistence of those disciples

And of the 70,

They planted seeds,

That inspired others

To do as Jesus taught us

To Love one another

And from that Love,

People cared for their neighbors

Through establishing hospitals,

Refugee centers,

Social service agencies,

In other words,

Because of 2,

Or 5

Or 10

Ministry

Got

Done!

(pause)

There is a lot of planting

And planning,

That my soul yearns to do with you,

As my community.

Some of it may seem odd

Different,

Bold,

Even radical

But,

It is because this Call

That our Risen Savior and Lord,

Jesus Christ

Has given me

I can’t shake it.

I don’t come carrying any textbooks,

Or IPad

Or any other gadget

Just

Me

Thankful

To do this God work

With you.

(pause)

Thanks Be to God.

 

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