4th Sunday after Pentecost
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Dear fellow ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
grace and peace to you from the one who sends us out. Amen
In this time after Pentecost
we are exploring how to live as disciples
of the crucified and risen Jesus
and here today in our gospel
Jesus gives concrete step by step instructions.
He has set his face toward Jerusalem
and is calling followers to go with him,
not everyone he meets accepts him
so now Jesus picks 70 followers
to go ahead of him to prepare the way for him
and this is how they are to go:
First they are to go in pairs,
Jesus knows that the disciples
will encounter difficulties
and that hard times are much easier to bear
with a friend by your side.
Following Jesus is something we are to do together,
Next Jesus tells them
that they are to travel light,
as in with only the clothes on their backs,
no extra sandals, no money, no extra food,
now this is a hard one for me,
when I travel I like to make sure
that I am as prepared as possible
and my last check before I head off
is always to make sure that at the very least I have my wallet
so that I can purchase anything I’ve forgotten along the way.
Jesus removes this safety net from the disciples’ journey,
God will provide for them
through the hospitality of those they meet
in the towns they enter.
when they get to a town
the disciples are to enter a house
and say ‘peace to this house’
and now Jesus’ instructions
become like one of those choose your own adventure stories
that were popular when I was growing up,
if the peace is shared turn to page 50,
if you are not welcomed turn to page 65 to see what happens next!
if the peace is shared
Jesus says that’s where the pair of disciples are to stay
and accept whatever hospitality is offered,
that means even if the house doesn’t follow the dietary laws,
or perhaps they are not wealthy
but are willing to share-
Jesus makes sure to say
that the disciples are not supposed to go from house to house
looking for the comfiest beds or best meals,
they are to stay where they are first welcomed,
and while they are there they are to cure the sick and say to the people
“The kingdom of God has come near to you.”
But now we turn to page 65,
if the disciples enter a town and are not welcomed,
Jesus tells the disciples to shake the dust of the town off their feet in protest
and move on,
they’re not to argue or threaten or even try to convince
the people there that they should listen,
the disciples are to move on,
after they proclaim
“yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.”
God acts whether we acknowledge it or not,
the kingdom is promised to all
whether it is received or rejected.
Our job as disciples
is to proclaim that it has come near
and let the spirit do the rest.
And it is a risk
because the message will be rejected
and rejection is hard to face,
especially again and again
and yet Jesus says to leave the rejection behind,
trust that God was present
and move on.
So the disciples go out following Jesus’ instructions
and when they come back
they are full of joy!
But what they are excited about is the power they have been given,
“Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”
Wow this is amazing they exclaim
but Jesus cautions them
“do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
The success of serving in Jesus’ name
goes to our heads pretty quickly.
We take a risk, it works out,
wow, look what we’ve accomplished we say,
and Jesus reminds us that it’s not about what we’ve done
but what God is doing through us.
What is God doing through us?
God is proclaiming peace
and the promise that God is acting in the world.
How are we to live as disciples?
We are to go out proclaiming peace to all we meet,
and whether we are welcomed or rejected
share the good news that God is near.
This summer each Sunday
we’ll have a discipleship practice
to help us grow as we follow Jesus.
This week it comes from Professor Amy G. Ogden
in her commentary on workingpreacher.org she says: “As Christians, we can reliably root our lives in these two proclamations -- “Peace to this house!” and “The kingdom of God has come near.” This is the good news that we have to share! These keep our gaze on God’s activity right in front of us, rather than turning it to blaming, accusing or judgmental analyzing, symptoms that reactivity holds our lives in bondage.”
Then she suggests that we “experiment with these two proclamations
by offering them daily for a week…”
first putting these proclamations into our own words,
something like ‘welcome as you are’
or ‘God’s love is near to you’
a way that sounds natural to whatever situation you are in
and sure sometimes these proclamations may be rejected
or seen as odd,
but you may also be surprised
at just how many times they are exactly what the person needs to hear in that moment.
So give it a try,
take a risk and remember:
Peace be with you,
you are in God’s care,
God’s love surrounds you whether you know it or not. Amen
Pastor Emily Johnson preaches weekly at Christ Lutheran. These are manuscripts of her sermons given at Christ Lutheran. Feel free to engage with them in the comments section of the blog.