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
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,
What do you hope
How do you hope,
To be fed
This Sunday morning?
Are you still seeking
Comfort from God,
Through gentle hands across the aisle?
Hoping for direction
So that you can,
To this ruined world
The essential of the Gospel
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.
(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.)
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,
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
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 standing as theologians
In this real world,
Would our congregations,
Our faith communities
Stop, blink, wonder, learn,
shake the dust off,
Growing the gap of the abyss?
Of this life’s journey
Seemingly grows more divisive
And the HOPE PROCLAIMED
In the Good News
Professed over and over again
Until our throats our raw
Until our voices hurt.
And to whom?
To our neighbor!
And who is our neighbor?
Who is in need.
Jesus Christ knew,
The only way that God’s message would reach
Was through us, beloved.
Through our songs,
Are called to share that message.
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
From the One whose presence
Still shakes this world.
The road to follow Jesus Christ
Because as we heard in the Gospel last week
It is a commitment!
We must forget ourselves
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
And suddenly our vision is filled with
Fearful mumbled rejection of our invitation
Struggles with welcoming!
As a beloved Elder and Mentor
Stated ironically on social media
We, as people of God
In this loyalty to the institution of the church,
And forgotten our loyalty
Forgotten how to follow Jesus.
There is this shift in the atmosphere
Because God never stops
Reminding us of our responsibility
To Follow Jesus Christ
Just as these 70 were called to do.
Not just following
But doing as Jesus would have done
Remaining in one place
Faithful to a community of people
Living daily as those around them
Contributing to the well being
Healing, elevating, stirring!
What I find so important,
And even a bit troubling in this Gospel text
Is Verse 11 here in Luke.
Shaking off the dust on one’s feet
In ancient times,
Was a sign of rejection-
There is no call for forced conversion here,
No direction that these would be people to be shamed
Simply because they did not welcome the disciples
But that YES
The Kingdom of God is HERE
Letting them know,
The Creator GOD
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
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
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,
God hears our prayers,
And walks with us
And refuses to GIVE UP ON US!!
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,
Social service agencies,
In other words,
Because of 2,
There is a lot of planting
That my soul yearns to do with you,
As my community.
Some of it may seem odd
It is because this Call
That our Risen Savior and Lord,
Has given me
I can’t shake it.
I don’t come carrying any textbooks,
Or any other gadget
To do this God work
Thanks Be to God.