Sunday, July 8, 2012

Getting Ready for the Journey

 Loving God,
open our ears to hear your word
and draw us closer to you,
that the whole world may be one with you
as you are one with us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.*

Getting Ready for the Journey

When we were kids we would go to visit my cousins once a year. It was an all-day drive. We got ready by packing our own gear – clothes, toothbrush, et cetera – whatever et cetera was at that age. We would then, sometimes, tromp around in our bathrobes and slippers on the front lawn, killing slugs with our feet (hence the slippers) and there a bye being helpfully out of the way while the car warmed up and my parents finished loading. We would head down the highway, stop for pancakes at the Busy Bee, plea for pea soup at Buellton, and arrive in the evening. We were assured of a welcome on our arrival, food and a place to sleep – and a greeting from cousins full of plans for our entertainment during our week’s visit. A neighbor would even loan us her bike so we could ride to the park together.

That is how we got ready for the journey – and what we knew to expect on our arrival.

What would it look like if you prepared the way Jesus had his disciples prepare, and go without knowing quite what to expect at the end of your journey?

What would it look like to travel light? for you?

This is beyond Rick Steves’ one carry-on – or the Sierra Club handbook for hikers, Traveling Light with Backpack or Burro

Here’s the packing list: take staff, sandals, and tunic (1). You are ready for the journey. No bread, no bag, no money in your belt.

Ah! One item more: the holy spirit, the gift of God, the empowering call of Jesus Christ, the authority over unclean spirits – and the message to proclaim: Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Now we are ready for our journey.

To travel as one called, empowered – equipped and inspired, sent: to be a messenger and a guest, not a host, dependent on the hospitality of those to whom you bring the message.

It is an urgent message, good news, important news, news that cannot wait: and so you go to deliver it – and whether they hear or refuse to hear, they shall know that the Word of God has been among them.

They will know it through the Spirit, through you exercising your duty and your call as disciples. Go!

What does it look like if you try to do this? Saint Francis of Assisi, and his companions, tried to find out. Francis made for them a rule of life, pretty much straight out of gospel lessons like this, and it said:

From the Rule of St. Francis of AssisiThe brothers should appropriate neither house, nor place, nor anything for themselves; and they should go confidently after alms, serving God in poverty and humility, as pilgrims and strangers in this world. Nor should they feel ashamed, for God made himself poor in this world for us. This is that peak of the highest poverty which has made you, my dearest brothers, heirs and kings of the kingdom of heaven, poor in things but rich in virtues. Let this be your portion. It leads into the land of the living and, adhering totally to it, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ wish never to have anything else in this world, beloved brothers.**

It’s that extra gift – the one that won’t fit in your travel kit, the one that keeps popping out and surprising you - that makes this journey possible. What is that gift? The word of God, which does what he sends it forth to accomplish; the word that he sent among us.

The ultimate “equipment” is this: God loves us as a loving father loves his children; so we are to act in the certainty of this love, and in imitation of it. The ultimate equipment is the certainty of God’s love; the ultimate commission is the urgency of sharing it.

The word among us – that is what the spirit means to accomplish, to make present in you and through the good and joyful news of the coming of the kingdom of God, the reign of heaven, God’s shalom.

And so the disciples, and the church, began, as Jesus had begun: baptized and in the spirit sent, leaving behind, casting aside, all earthly impediments, in the urgency of his message.

                  what is this message—
                                                      to you?

What could be so important that you would lose your life for it? What but life itself – true, abundant, free, eternal life – life as it is meant to be lived, as we were created to enjoy it, as we were redeemed to bear it, as we were empowered to share it?

Wisdom and deeds of power: that is what Jesus is doing. That is what he calls the twelve into, as his partners in evangelism and mission.

That is what he does for us,
as we gather,
proclaim and
celebrate the transforming word and deed of our Lord, and
are sent –

we go forth,
in the power of the spirit,

to bring that good message of the kingdom
to the world
in our own words, and in our own lives,
in what we do and what we say,

sometimes systematically, sometimes accidentally,
always faithfully,
caring, showing, sharing, doing
God’s gracious will for us:

so that all may share in the kingdom of peace and abundance –
the abundance of God’s love for all of humankind.

God calls us – we respond, willingly; God equips us, inspires and empowers us. We are dependent on God’s mercy, not on our own particular resources. And we are called to support the work of the church with our own resources, for this ministry is, after all, a treasure, a gift that we have in common. We cannot boast in our own strength, Paul leads us in knowing, but we can boast in God’s grace.***

May we be open to God’s word, calling us;
may we be open to God’s spirit, equipping us.

God of grace and powerful weakness,
at times your projects were ignored, rejected, belittled, and unwelcome.
Trusting that we, too, are called to be prophets,
fill us with your Spirit,
and support us by your gentle hands,
that we may persevere in speaking your word
and living our faith. Amen.*

BProper9, Ezekiel 2:1-5, Psalm 123, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13,

* Prayers from the Church of England, Common Worship 
( accessed 7 July 2012)

** The Rule of Saint Francis ( accessed July 7, 2012.)

*** Lance Ousley, Stewards' Stirrings: Pentecost 6 Proper 9B in the Diocese of Olympia



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