Saturday, 18 October 2008

The Sending

Luke 10:1 - 9
The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”
Jesus has given up trying to do it all himself. As fast as he is healing in one village he is being maligned in another. So he gathers what is the nearest he will come to an 'army' around him to launch an offensive.
Because, it wasn't like the movies, just Jesus and the Twelve promenading around the Galilee chatting to people. He was 'on a mission'. Maybe he knew he had three years, maybe he didn't, maybe it wasn't even three years, but there was a change to be made and it just wasn't happening. Still, there were those that followed and that believed, and although he feared for their lives, 'lambs among wolves', he chose the best of them; gave them all the advice he could and sent them out (remembering that 'the best of them' in Jesus' eyes could have been sinners, outcasts and women). And, not to give the game away, but they do really well!
There's a lot going on today in the Church that could benefit from listening this Gospel. At this time there is a move towards the church getting 'church-ier', the Liturgy becoming more ritualised, and reverence being held in higher esteem that hospitality. The people who want this say it is to protect the tradition - well, there are two traditions in the Church;
Faith - the Tradition of the Trinity, the Death and Resurrection and teachings of Jesus Christ and Culture - the tradition of what the buildings look like, what we wear, where we sit and what we sing. One is Eternal and the other is transitory. We should be careful not to mix them up.
It's the real Tradition that should really involve us and as Christians we should have read the small print; it wasn't just the Twelve that were chosen (not just the priests and religious today) but everyone who considers themselves a Christian is a disciple. Sent out, not to build buildings, not to mix only with other Christians, not to play it safe; but to bring peace and healing and the Kingdom of God.
That's our responsibility now. We have to prove to the 'Church', to society, to ourselves that the image may be changing, that it may be time for a 'make-over' but that the only real way for the Church to stay alive is always to go back, to return to the source, to the Word, to the Sending.

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