Monday, July 2, 2007

What Move's you?

There are so many things to get excited about in this life. Everything from a great baseball team to a great job could be the reason that you're moved to celebrate. And there are are plenty of other reasons why we might be moved. Tough, tragic news moves us to action just as much, maybe sometimes even more, than the good news that moves us to rejoice. Our faith is about action and trust, our faith is about being moved by the word of God into the world in love for God and in love for our neighbors. Jesus sent 70 people out to spread the good news. At fist glance sending out 70 (or maybe 72) people looks like a reason to celebrate and to rejoice. 70 people went out to announce the good-news to heal the sick and to caste out daemons. But there was plenty of reason to worry. Jesus said that they would be like lambs among wolves.

The true church, the body of Christ, made up of believers in mission is not guaranteed of a future beyond faith. But by faith we know that something bigger and better is coming for us. Jesus plan for the church isn't that we be secure and certain in this life. His plan is so very different. His plan is eternal. He sent his followers out empty handed with limit instruction and training, “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.” Luke 10:4. NRSV. He told them to go; and when they stopped he told the 70 to announce peace at each house. Where they were not accepted he told them to wipe the dust off of their feet in judgment.

Jesus sends the true church out into the world. He wants us to travel light. We are encumbered by all sorts of things. Jobs, homes, hobbies, toys, recreation, status can all hold us in place. But Jesus wants us to be ready to move in mission. Jesus plan for the church is for us to see incredible things happen. The 70 he sent out witnessed things that they hadn't before imagined. He said to the 70 when they returned, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:18-20 NRSV

We have a home and it isn't on this earth. We have a family and we haven't seen every member of it yet. “...rejoice” Jesus said, “that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 NRSV

In our days we can get caught up in living and in Christ we meet God who calls us to live today not like we are here forever but as if we were each on our way. He calls us to live out his love boldly; not encumbered by this world. He sent the 70 out and he sends us out knowing, as we spread the Good News, that we belonged in the kingdom of God. AMEN.


Diane said...

great overview! all the stuff that we are encumbered with. the thing to rejoice in is that "your names are written in heaven". whatever sermon, it should move to this joyful realiziation.

Pastor Eric said...

I attended an evangelism weekend seminar last fall. During one of the sessions, the leader used Mark's version of this story to illustrate some lessons of evangelism (this is not an exhaustive list): (1) We don't need much equipment, (2) Whatever gets in the way - leave it behind, (3) Jesus gives us a command and authority, (4) We won't always be "successful", (5) Jesus sends us out as a community.

I think this "sending out" scares people and therefore they don't see themselves included in this story. Too many people believe that only pastors or other "trained" people are the ones sent out to preach the Good News.

Diane said...

I think you're right, ERic. HOw can we start realizing that we're all "sent out" -- in ordinary ways? Sometimes the examples we use of evangelism are does it function for most people?

Pastor Eric said...

The July edition of The Lutheran has an easy, down to earth evangelism tip on page 9. A guy said he posts the church bulletin in his cubical each week. Because of the bright colored cover, people notice it. Once in a while someone will ask about his church and this will be a door to talk about faith issues. Evangelism anyone can do.

The Unlikely Conversationalist: said...

You two a catching on to something big. Hard part is to trust the spirit like the man who posted a bulletin and to believe that God can use any believer not just the "special" ones.
The issue comes back in the debate in Galatians about who is qualified and who isn't or the church.

David said...

I led a retreat for a group of men a couple of months ago, and as part of the retreat I asked each man to bring along a rock about the size of an egg and leave it in his pocket all weekend. During our worship that Sunday, I asked each man to take the rock and tell the group how it felt having this rock in their pocket? Each man took turns telling the group just how uncomfortable it was and that having such an item in one’s pocket is a hindrance.

I then told the group that these rocks represent all of the excess baggage we carry in our lives. The rocks are the things that weigh us down, draw us away from God and our loved ones, and keep us from doing that which God has called us to do. I asked each man to reflect on this in a quiet place, and then when they were ready to let go, simply throw the rock into the woods.

Indeed, God calls us to travel light and not have rocks in our pockets.