July 7, 2019
4th Sunday after Pentecost
Galatians 6:[1-6] 7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable and suitable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
It was just over a year ago when 13 youth and 4 adults all filled with the spirit, yet quite exhausted returned from the National Youth Gathering in Houston. This past week many memories from a year ago popped up on my social media feeds.
This picture is the last meal I had in Houston, at the airport.
It's the biggest breakfast quesadilla I’ve ever seen...and eaten.
Everything is bigger in Texas.
We ate so well when we were in Houston, but the place that left the biggest impact on our stomachs and our hearts was Daisy’s Deli. We found this place on Yelp and were wondering why the address led us to an administrative building. Yet, as we filed in past the security guard and the other folks dressed for work we found this small deli on the first floor. I’ve talked about this place before, but it was definitely a highlight of our trip.
Here we are with the owner, Pil, and another employee who took care of us not once, but twice while we were in Houston.
Our bellies were full, and Pil was a little weepy when we asked to take this picture with her after our second visit.
I know this place left a huge impression on us because of the hospitality they showed to us. They welcomed us in, took great care in getting our order correct, which is sometimes tricky with a group of 17, and we watched them prepare each burrito and bagel sandwich fresh for us.
It’s all about hospitality, isn’t it. Especially when you travel. That was one of the first things we talked about as we were leaving for Houston, as soon as we boarded the vans to take us to the airport, we were dependent upon the hospitality of others until we returned back to good ol’ Robesonia.
Maybe some of you have experienced something similar in your travels. That as soon as you leave the comfort of your own home or community, you are dependent upon the work and service of others for your well being while you are away.
It’s all about hospitality.
Sometimes I think it’s a humbling experience to be at the needs of others, especially when you are away from home. It’s often humbling when you realize that you and you alone may not be able to care for yourself, and you need the presence, help and care of others to meet your own physical needs.
In our gospel lesson today, Jesus addresses not only hospitality, but also relationship, as he sends 70 followers out to proclaim and share the good news of Jesus Christ.
He appoints 70 and sends them out in pairs.
That’s a good start, right? They are not sent out on their own, but in the company of another. They are to carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.
They are sent without anything, which shows that they are dependent upon the hospitality of strangers for their well-being as they travel and evangelize.
They are to greet no one on the road…seems strange to say that, but here again, it’s that reminder, that they are on a mission (from God). They need that reminder, to focus, on the mission of getting this gospel message out there.
They are to enter a house and first say, “Peace to this house.” They enter with a word and greeting of peace. They are to remain in the house eating and drinking whatever they provide. Who knows what will be offered, but again, it pushes Jesus followers to be open and ready for the hospitality of others. That’s not always easy.
And then this line, do not move about from house to house, but remain in the same house.
And this is where we move from hospitality to relationship. How do you get to know a person? By spending time with her or him.
How do you learn about a culture or a community? By spending time there, eating the food that is set before you, listening to the stories of the people there and sharing your own life stories.
It is through time spent with others, specifically listening to their stories and experiences, that we learn about others and are able to see where God is at work in the world already.
How we know God and have experienced God in our lives is through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
That is the story we are called to share with others. What we experience in this place: forgiveness, grace, love, supportive prayers, the body and blood of Christ at this table, God’s word breathing into our lives in word and song, that is what we are called to share with others.
How do we respond to this calling from Jesus today?
So, how are we, just like the 70 we read about today, sent out?
Each and every week we are sent out of this place…to share the good news of God, to go to the places Jesus sends us, to build relationships with others, to listen to their stories and to share the places and experiences we have had with Jesus in our own lives.
That’s how the gospel message is shared, folks.
Yes, fed and strengthened in this place we are prepared to share the message out there, but it’s not until we leave this place that the gospel message is shared.
We are living in a world that seems to become more divisive each day. It rough out there…but out there…that’s where God is already in the midst of the struggles, disagreements, misunderstandings and in the joys, too. Out there is where we are called to see Jesus at work and to be Christ’s hands and feet reaching out to those in our community, nation and world who are in need of a word of forgiveness, a hug of peace, a meal or a safe place to sleep. It is far too easy for us to leave this place, feeling the love and grace of God and holding on to it until we come back next week.
It us much more challenging for us to leave this place and enter into relationships with people who are different than we are (for whatever reason) and to enter into relationship with them and see how God’s love and presence grows when that happens.
We’re not going to run out of God’s love and grace and forgiveness when we share it. It will keep going and going and going.
That’s the good news, my friends, this love of God, this grace of God, is NOT limited in any way, shape or form. We are free to share this unending love and grace with everyone we meet.
I pray that as we leave this place that we are able to see God at work in the world and be drawn into the places, conversations and relationships that Jesus calls us to be part of.
May we be the hands and feet of Christ in our community and in our nation.
May we show the love of God to all God’s children.
May God show God’s love through our listening, our loving, our serving and our learning.
And may the peace of Christ, which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.