The Rev. Robert P. Travis
7th Sunday after Pentecost Sermon – 8am, 9:30am Chapel of St. John the Divine, Saunderstown RI
RCL Year C Proper 9 7/3/2016
Scripture Text: Isaiah 66:10-14
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
What does it take to be a disciple of Jesus?
What is discipleship really about.
That’s what last week
And this week’s gospel messages are about.
And this week we see those being sent,
Seeing how much trust they will need,
And reacting with surprised joy,
At the way their ministry is received.
We might get excited,
with the seventy disciples
Who Jesus sends out in this ministry
Where he himself intends to go.
He’s right there with them,
But he showed that his message,
Was not just going to be about what he could share,
But what others would share of God
On His behalf,
With His power,
In His name.
So he sends out seventy,
Not just twelve as we heard of so much before.
This is a bigger group.
Much like the population of this Chapel.
And he sends them around
To the community,
Doing the things that He was doing,
And teaching the things that He was teaching.
But while we might expect,
This is what a teacher of faith would do.
There’s one line in there,
That highlights the risk He is asking them,
And us to take.
First he warns them,
I’m sending you out as lambs
Into the midst of wolves,
That’s not so much to say
That everyone will try to devour them,
Though there have been times in my ministry
Where I have felt that way.
But it is more referring to what he says next.
He tells them when they are to go on their way,
“Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals.”
And “remain in the same house,
Eating or drinking whatever they provide.”
Do you notice what that means?
The part about eating and drinking in one house
Refers to the house where the peace can be shared.
This is not saying stay with people who
Reject or abuse you,
But in the place where your peace is received,
Depend on what they provide,
On what God provides.
The followers of Jesus were supposed to
Pursue their job, their calling,
Without taking their money into it,
Without taking their possessions with them.
Without taking extra clothing.
What Jesus is asking of them
Is to trust that their needs will be provided,
And to put no worry to their earthly needs
Not to fear that their needs for security,
Will go unmet.
How can we trust and not worry
when we are sent to do something important?
That runs so counter
To our American sensibilities,
That I think we completely gloss over
That part in our minds.
We live in a society that wants
Us to be anxious about everything,
That wants us to believe that
We will only have our needs met
If we provide for ourselves.
So we engage our work,
And our lives,
With a great deal of worry.
So much so that even relatively
Unimportant things cause us to worry.
I had the pleasure of serving
On the Race Committee down here for the sailboats
At SYC in Saunderstown.
Barbara who was serving with me
Showed me this flag stand,
That Locke had made for the signal flags,
A big improvement over
The way the flags had been held in the past.
And when she showed it to me
She mentioned how she was worried that
It wouldn’t work,
And we would have to hold the flags
During the races.
So often, when we are reflecting on success,
We become aware of the things
That we were worried about not working.
And that reminded me of a conversation
I had with my dad recently.
Of my two parents,
He definitely is the more anxious one,
All my life.
He said in a rather memorable way,
When I shared some of the things I was worried about,
He has learned from many years of life,
That the things that we were worried about
Always seem to work out better than we expected
and the things that we find in hindsight
we should have worried about
did not cause us anxiety,
because they surprised us.
Because we had no idea they would happen.
So in a way, it’s like God protects us
From the anxiety
That would have made those surprising struggles,
Much worse because they hit us by surprise.
Do you see how radically different that is,
From the way we are encouraged to live
In our country?
We believe too much in a myth
that security is ours to make happen.
Our national mythology seems to be
That if we prepare for every eventuality,
If we pour money and resources into being prepared,
Then eventually tragedies will not affect us.
We will be protected from any loss,
And any failure.
God tells us the opposite.
When Jesus sends his larger group of seventy out,
Without money, clothes or possessions.
And asks them to rely on the kindness of strangers,
For their whole journey,
Saying, make no plans for your own provision
Go with none of the means of security
It must have seemed daunting.
But what result do we see?
Did his disciples return
Saying, Oh we didn’t have enough.
They didn’t feed us.
We ran out of money.
Our sandals wore out.
No, they return with joy.
Saying basically, It worked!
And not just that, even the demons submitted to us!
They went about their task without fear,
And the Lord provided for them.
So what makes the difference,
Between the way the world operates,
Trying to prepare for every eventuality,
To insure against every possible tragedy.
And the way we as followers of Jesus
are to pursue our various callings
As followers of Jesus going out in faith?
Well, we see that, in the beginning of the passage.
Jesus appointed and sent out seventy of his disciples.
“he sent them on ahead of him, in pairs,
to every town and place where he himself intended to go.”
“Where He himself intended to go.”
In this scene Jesus did not go with them
In the flesh,
But they went with his power.
In our day he doesn’t go with us in the flesh,
But if we are Jesus’ followers,
We go where he himself intends to go,
We go with him, with his Holy Spirit,
With his power.
Which allows us truly to trust in his provision,
And that he will accomplish the goal
He has sent us for,
And provide for our needs along the way
Even if we go without any assurance of security.
That is the way we are to approach,
Every aspect of our various callings.
“Jesus, where do you intend to go with this?
If I am to go, I trust you to provide for me,
And to accomplish what you desire.”
The result may be other than we would expect,
And the obstacles we face will certainly be
Different from what we would fear.
When we approach our work,
Our lives without fear,
That is true freedom,
That is what we should be celebrating
This year as we celebrate our independence,
Not the supremacy of our military,
Or the way we prepare for every disaster,
But the freedom of following a God,
Who provides for our needs
And will accomplish what God intends.
Truly the service of God
Is perfect freedom.