2019-07-07/4th Pentecost-C/Community Lutheran/Pr. Joe Vought
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
When I was 10 my parents said, “We are sending you to Church camp.” “No! I don’t want to go. I want to stay here with my friends.” It became clear I wasn’t going to win the argument, so I was sent to Mount Luther in Central PA. We had cool college kids as counselors, we played all kinds of games, swam and canoed in a lake. We made smores around a campfire, sang songs while pastors and counselors told us Bible stories. I didn’t want to go, I was sent. I heard Good News, I met Jesus in people who shared the faith and I was hooked. Eventually I became a camp counselor and one day, the Camp Director said, “Joe you would make a good pastor, you should think about seminary.” William Willimon has said, “Being Christian is weirdly un-American. We are people who believe our lives are ours to do with as we please, that life is about my choices and that the life I am living is my own. But Christianity is demanding, it means you are where you are because you have been called and sent by God. Every follower of Jesus Christ, clergy or not is sent.”
When God calls Abraham and Sarah, the first word God says is “Go, Go from your country and your kindred to the land I will show you.” Before any promises, details and an itinerary is given, there is a call and two people are sent packing. You know the story: God sent Moses to lead his people out of Egypt and God sent Israel in the Exodus saying, “I will be your God, you will be my people, I will send you as a light to the nations.” God is always creating and saving AND calling and sending. St. John says, “God so loved the world that He sent His Son.” And God so loves the world that He creates a Church. God is not content with stone tablets, papyrus scrolls, Bibles in print or our Webpages. Rather, it is God’s amazing grace spoken by human beings that makes the difference.
Ed and Geri Bobcheck tell a story of being on a bus trip where they sat with Rosemary Richard and Nancy Wagner. As they talked about church, Geri said, “We tried Community but no one talked to us, so we went somewhere else.” They replied, “You’ve got to come now, things have changed, we think you will love it.” Ed and Geri are here because Rosemary and Nancy sent them and when they walked in the door, Geri said, “This time people talked to us and we stayed.”
This is the way God works, Jesus is baptized and starts walking and preaching, “The Kingdom of God is near,” He goes to Synagogue but most of the time he met people on the road, at their nets, in homes and in the fields. He calls 12 different disciples. Today Luke says Jesus sent out 70 others with instructions: 1) Go your way, travel light, 2) Speak “Peace” to people you meet, receive hospitality, don’t be picky about the menu, 3) ) Announce the Kingdom of God. We do not have any evidence they were especially gifted. It seems tGod gets a kick out of calling ordinary people like you and me. St. Paul said, “We carry this treasure in earthen vessels to show the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.”
With the eyes of faith, I can look back on my whole journey and see the hand of God in every blessed or uncertain move I ever made. How many times did I think I was choosing, yet God was leading me to places and experiences I never dreamed of. Twelve years ago Bishop Graham said, “Joe you would be a good fit for Community in Sterling. I’m sending you the profile.” I wonder if you can’t look back on your life to realize it wasn’t you but God’s Spirit calling and sending? The reason I am sporting this wonderful haircut is that God sent a young man named Colby Sandt, a veteran who wanted to minister and serve. He asked us if we would help. I would like to believe I have chosen this time of retirement and leaving but I know God has more ideas and more ministry in mind for Debra and me.
God is calling and sending you. How will you breathe God’s Spirit and God’s Peace in the world where you live this week? How might you proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom, perhaps in the simplest and kindest of ways? Remember what St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, when you need to, use words.” God “so loved the world that he sent Jesus.” In the sending of the 12 and 70 Jesus is telling us the world is the arena for sharing God’s Good News so that others may hear, believe, be called and sent, just like you and me.
To be a disciple and follower of Jesus means you are doing what you are doing and you are where you are because you have been sent. May God bless our gathering and our sending in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.