The Holy Gospel According to St. Luke 10:1-11
10:1 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. 10:2 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. 10:3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst
of wolves. 10:4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 10:5 Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' 10:6 And if anyone is there who shares
in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 10:7 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. 10:8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 10:9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them,
'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' 10:10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 10:11 '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.'
This is the Gospel of the Lord . . . Praise to You O Christ!
Being a disciple is like being sent into a precarious situation
In Today's lesson we hear that Jesus Sends Out the 70 with specific warnings and instructions. First of all, going out to be a disciple is like being sent into a precarious situation,
maybe even dangerous, because not everyone will be happy to hear the news about God's kingdom coming and the Messiah's teaching about love and peace and inclusion. So Jesus tells the 70,
"You are Like Lambs Among Wolves," and he means that the 70 ought not be naive about what they're getting themselves into.
To make the mission a little more challenging by our standards, Jesus tells the group not to take any Extra Stuff! The idea is that the disciples need to Travel Light. Now this could
have at least two hidden meanings or maybe three! First of all, if you've ever hiked a significant length of the Appalachian Trail or gone on some of other significant journey with a
heavy pack, you know that it does not take too many miles until you are shedding the unnecessary gear.
On a recent visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains we listened to a Park Ranger as he described different levels of hikers who come through his area of the Trail. He said "your
inexperienced hikers will have 40-50 lbs of stuff on that backs . . . with that much weight, they are going to get some serious blisters and will only go for a short hike, ;ike maybe
5-10 miles a day. Then there's the more experienced and well-seasoned hikers who can travel 25 or more miles per day. They have their pack weight down to 15 lbs or less! They just carry
the bare necessities as they have found . . . if you're going to be a serious hiker, you're going to go without the extras and comforts.
What the Ranger didn't talk about was how, when you really get down to life's bare necessities, you become more reliant on other people . . . this is the second point Jesus may have
been getting across to the disciples. If you want to go and communicate the message about God's kingdom coming, you can't be a rugged individualist! You have to literally become more
vulnerable and reliant on others. And so Jesus gives several specific recommendations about going and remaining at the home of "whoever welcomes you" . . . and eating what is served.
"Don't travel from house to house." As though looking for some better lodging and accommodations! But be content and thankful for what is provided, for "the worker is worth their wages."
The third point is that, going out without all that extra gear and provisions entails ultimately becoming more reliant on God! When we put ourselves out there in the deserts of life,
we have to rely on God to Supply what is needed. More often than not, we will find that what God considers critical for our sustenance and growth is not what we would first choose. This
also becomes a matter of being the faithful disciple who must rely on God to supply what is needed, and not what is always desired.
Jesus gets the disciples out there into the place where they will both give to others what God wants for them, and receive from others and from the experience itself what God wants
for these disciples, a tempered faith and a grateful heart can and will be used of God to do great things for the kingdom!
Finally, I think there's a forth benefit derived from Jesus bare minimum travel recommendations. Remember that Jesus sent them out in pairs, whether husbands and wives went we don't
know, but Jesus knew that the disciples needed to learn how to work together as partners in mission. If two could work well together, support one another and encourage one another, this
would also build their character and make their joint ministry that much more vital. *Husbands and wives please take note!! Your relationship is a witness in the world, for Good or Bad .
. . so keep on Loving one another through thick and thin or learn how to embrace this peace that Jesus is offering. *Hint, your Pastor or a trusted Counselor can help . . . don't be
ashamed to ask.
So off goes the 70!
Jesus instructs the disciples to go wherever they are welcomed and to announce the Peace of God as a proclamation (or blessing) to each home that welcomes them. This is an interesting
point. When Jesus empowers the disciples to announce the PEACE, it is like a tangible thing. The Peace of God can be given like a tangible gift. Therefore, it can be received by the
recipient as a tangible good. By the same token, if the Peace of God is not received, but is instead rejected, then it returns to the giver (the disciple) and ultimately returns to the
Sender -- GOD: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
It stands to reason that none of us would want to reject the gift that God might have for us. That being the case, then we don't want to turn away the genuine servant of God who might
be knocking upon your door, either literally nor figuratively. It could be your pastor or neighborhood priest or preacher who comes to visit. Or it could be that God is knocking on the
door of your heart through the Word of God as you are reading it or hearing it. Jesus has many mediums to get The Word out. You may be hearing the voice of Jesus speaking to you in one
of many ways.
Perhaps we each must ask ourselves if we are being open to Christ as the message about his Kingdom and Peace comes to us? Will we allow the servants voice to speak to us? Or will we
reject the Word of PEACE because we don't feel we need God's peace, love and goodness to work in our lives or household? This is a serious matter that, in my opinion is critical. There
are thousands in my area who seem to have turned their hearts off. They have so rejected God and the Church in their lives that they do not know where to turn when serious matters of
Life and Death finally awaken them from this state of ignorance. I implore you, if you have not said "Yes" to the Peace that Jesus desires for you, your children, your marriage . . .
then today is the day. And the church is the place to go to learn and explore the this Peace and This Kingdom . . . find out how you can become a disciple and live the life.
I would hope that in my own life, I would be one to choose to welcome the Peace of God through the servant of Christ who might come knocking at my heart or house door. Yes, even us
church going (even priests and pastors!) folk can become hard-hearted. So, we all need this message to remain ready and open to Jesus message and messenger.
An illustration comes to mind that is slightly out of the ordinary, but within the scope of acceptance of this Peace of God. A few years ago I received a phone call from someone whom
I was familiar with. The woman explained that they had been living in their historic house for about a year or so, but that there was something about the house that made her feel
uncomfortable. After inquiring a little deeper about the matter of her discomfort in this seemingly lovely old home, she explained how there had been a certain group of persons who used
to meet in her home who were practicing divination -- something that amounted to witchcraft.
Now I would like to clarify my position on such things, I do not perform exorcisms, but the Lutheran Church does have an official service known as The Blessing of the Home. This is a
service of welcoming the Light of Christ into the home . . . and no darkness, nor strange power can stand where Christ has entered in!
So, I offered to lead this House Blessing for this woman and her family. On the day of the Blessing, we took turns reading a special prayer and scripture for each room of the house.
It is a service of light, and, as we go through the house, we carry a candle symbolizing Jesus' presence. It is a time to Welcome Jesus into the home and to exercise faith, believing
that no darkness remains when Jesus is present.
This kind of action is a good representation of welcoming Jesus' Peace into the home as was being done by those early disciples in our Gospel Lesson. I think we can take this action
to heart. Welcoming the PEACE that Jesus desires for our lives and families should be a regular activity. A normal response as God wants to express his love for us in tangible ways.
We can also become the ones who "GO" as Jesus instructed. You don't have to carry a whole lot of stuff to go and visit the neighbors next door. You don't have to become "Preachy" or
judgmental either. Just go and greet folks, show that you care. And as the Spirit leads, demonstrate the love and peace of God by your actions and words. People really need to know that
God loves them, because more often than not these days, people feel cut off from neighbors, separated from God's love and unwelcomed by the church. Let us take Jesus' words to heart and
join that original 70 -- and GO!
Let us pray:
Lord we want to do your will and share your Peace and Love with others. At the same time, we, ourselves, are sometimes the ones who do not embrace your Peace nor the message about
your Kingdom coming into our towns, villages and homes. So make us open and gentle-hearted and receptive to your Word of grace, law and Peace. Cause us to be your Peace working and
present in the world. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen