MESSAGE: Fourth Sunday after Pentecost 3 July 2022
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – The Kingdom of God has come near to you. The nearness is embodied in the hospitable moments of community – in the intimacy of community.
All the readings this week speak of God working in very natural and ordinary ways.
In a world where reality television can lead us to believe that we don’t matter unless we’re celebrities, this message is healing and profound.
Even in the Church, where God’s work is often viewed solely through the lens of the “great”, the “powerful”, and the “significant”, we can easily end up missing the everyday miracles and the routine acts of God.
The problem with our obsession with the supernatural and the dramatic is that those of us who are just ordinary people, with very ordinary gifts, can begin to believe that we have nothing to offer the Reign of God.
And then we may end up doing nothing as we wait for the prominent and
charismatic leaders in our world to step in.
Also, when our language is only about “changing the world” for Jesus, we too easily forget that the most important change we need to make is in ourselves.
Let us not underestimate the significance of choosing daily to be a
little more like Jesus, and to be a little more committed to the values
and purposes of God’s Reign right where we are.
In fact, the only thing that really changes the world is when millions of ordinary people make ordinary contributions to the common good. So, when we give generously and sacrificially to worthy causes, we make a
When we refuse to laugh at, or listen to, jokes that are racist, chauvinistic, or unkind, we make a difference.
When we treat others with kindness, patience and understanding, even when they do things that hurt us, we make a difference.
Through Jesus, there is power of small, ordinary things.
The scene in today’s Gospel reading is deceptively simple.
In preparation for visiting a number of towns, Jesus sent his disciples
on ahead of him.
His instructions were, essentially, that they should expect, and depend on, the hospitality of the people to whom they were being sent.
This was a very ordinary part of life in those times – it was expected that travellers would be offered hospitality, and to refuse to do so was considered very rude.
As they moved from home to home, the disciples were told to stay with the first family in each town who welcomed them.
They were not to move around the town if they found a better place to stay. And whatever they were given to eat, they were to accept.
Essentially Jesus was telling his disciples to be good guests, because in this way their message would more easily be received. What an ordinary way to witness!
Of course, though, there was to be no coercion. If the people to
whom they went rejected peace, refused to receive God’s
messengers, or even rejected them, they were to proclaim that
God’s Reign had visited them – ensuring that the people knew what
they were missing – and then move on.
Notice how excited the disciples were when they returned because demons had submitted to them. But, for Jesus, this was not the important thing. What was far more significant was that they had been welcomed into God’s family – very naturally and easily.
How can you witness to the love and grace of Jesus in your own
ordinary way today?
What does it mean for us to go out in the moment we live in and bring the Kingdom of God present?
It is important to see our world alongside this text, real people going into our/their world, not with the biblical language of harvest (the harvest is plenty but the workers are few) but of the language of God showing up in healing and bringing hospitality and welcoming.
Recognising when people don’t want to hear God’s truth, you keep telling that truth and it’s ok for you to move on so that you don’t change the message. That message is that God is promising to welcome, to restore, and to bring hospitality.
Some people don’t want to hear the message of the Good news of God, in Jesus – that is a major theme in Luke of this embedded rejection of the message.
What will be our response to that rejection – frequent rejection?
Luke envisions the Mission of the Kingdom carried out by many of Jesus’ followers. Not just a chosen few.
The VISION of Luke/Acts is that you will be my witnesses, an inclusive group, we can hear the travel narrative of Jesus adding to the number of people who are witnessing – that is YOU and ME – making it possible that you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast and the ends of the earth!
What is important to Jesus here is hospitality. Jesus spends a lot of time eating and drinking with people. The nature of the ministry of Jesus is go to the people, yes you have a message, yes you have the power to heal, but sit with them and eat and drink with them.
This is how communities get created and sustained in this shared space together.
How do we learn from the 1st Century Church in creating these alternative societies in these alternative ways of integrating and connecting with each other. Sharing how the Kingdom of God has come near to you.
What would that mean and what would that look like to you?
How can you say that the Kingdom of God has come near to you with any kind of confidence?
What’s going on in our Church Community?
What’s going on in the Community around us?
How would that message – the Kingdom of God has come near to you – sound like to different kinds of people in different kinds of circumstances?
Look at Naaman, Luke 4.27 – Not him, not Naaman the Syrian King, that’s not who the kingdom is for – then they wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff! Loving our enemies. Enemies can be healed. Hate cannot drive our hate, only LOVE can do that – maybe this is the Old Testament version of the Good Samaritan in some way.
So this is about telling the Jesus story to people over and over, not just the people we want to hear it, our insider group/our community/our tribe. Tell is to our neighbours – telling this same promise to ALL!
Who does Naaman hear the message from: the least likely person to offer it , the little servant girl. In Naaman we have a picture of less than a perfect person, you are asked to do something by someone who’s reputation is so great – why don’t you give it a try?
Lord, make me willing to do that with my enemies, those who seem irredeemable and let me step aside and see what happens when you show up.
ACTION: The discipline of proclamation – of witnessing to God’s message
and mission – is not reserved for ministers or missionaries. Nor is it
limited to bold words and dramatic acts. Rather, when ordinary
followers of Jesus choose to live with kindness, compassion and
hospitality, others notice and are drawn to Christ. Today, allow your
ordinary routine to witness to Jesus.
PRAY: May my ordinary life reflect your love and grace, Jesus