July 8, 2024

MESSAGE – Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – Year B – Sunday 7 July 2024

MESSAGE – Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – Year B – Sunday 7 July 2024

MESSAGE 7 July – Seventh Sunday after PENTECOST YEAR B

THEMES: God’s sending and God’s provision

Sent forth by God and Christ’s disciples, we are called to proclaim repentance, teach God’s love, and offer Christ’s healing ministry. These scriptures warn us, however, that our gifts will not always be accepted; our ministries will not always be received. When faced with rejection, Christ was amazed at people’s unbelief. Even so, Jesus travelled on and offered kindness and mercy to new friends and different communities. Even as we face hardships and rejection in the ministries we offer, we are called to shake the dust off of our feet and travel on, offering kindness and mercy, ministry and love, to new friends and different communities.

To receive God’s call to leadership and ministry, we need to learn two important lessons of both leadership and servanthood. The first lesson is to accept that any calling comes only as part of a called community. We are always sent as individuals because of our connection with, and our place in, a “sent community”. The second lesson is that we are always sent to serve, which requires both trust in God’s message and mission, and the humility to be vulnerable to those to whom we seek to minister. The resources by which we serve are also not our own, but are gifts we receive from God, and from others who are “called” to resource God’s work. In this way, ministry becomes an act of community-building and of mutual service and faith. And, when we begin to live and serve like this, we truly begin to experience life as God intended it.

What if we could be effective in helping unchurched people become followers of Jesus without learning scripts, without ‘steering’ conversations, without campaigns, crusades or anything else that seems like relational kryptonite?

 

At the end of Luke’s gospel, Jesus states that repentance and forgiveness will be preached (and there’s another article in that) to all nations.  And then he told the gathered disciples, “You are witnesses of these things.”

In court, reliable witnesses have a degree neutrality: “This is what I saw, this is what I heard, this is what I experienced.”

People generally belong before they believe.

An essential part in making disciples is simply bearing witness to your own experience of being a follower of Jesus.  We have no trouble talking about other aspects of our lives – our kids, our work, our hobbies.  Can we be just as open with our spiritual lives?  Witness is not pressure-selling people, it’s simply being honest and a little transparent.  If we’re honest about our lives, the essential ingredients of the gospel (God is gracious and compassionate, we’re all sinners, confession and repentance are essential) will be both apparent and – without our anxious efforts – compelling.

Hanging around in a community where those kind of stories are as routinely related as talk of a child’s first tooth or a tricky problem at work, an unchurched person is seeing and hearing the gospel played-out.  It’s no great stretch for them to want to know more.

God’s sending and God’s provision from 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 to our lives can be both inspiring and practical:

  1. Recognizing Our Calling: Just as David was sent by God to lead Israel, we too can seek to discern our own callings. Whether in our careers, our families, or our communities, we can look for ways God is sending us to make a positive impact.
  2. Embracing God’s Promises: The covenant at Hebron reminds us of the promises God makes to us. We can trust in His provision, knowing that He is faithful to fulfill His word, providing guidance and resources we need to fulfill our callings.
  3. Valuing Our Time: David’s reign teaches us the importance of valuing the time we are given. We can strive to use our years wisely, investing in relationships and endeavors that align with God’s purposes.
  4. Building Our Jerusalem: Just as David established Jerusalem, we are called to build and nurture the spaces where we live. This could mean strengthening our communities, fostering spiritual growth, and creating environments where God’s presence is felt.
  5. Relying on God’s Strength: Recognizing that David’s strength came from the Lord, we too can lean on God’s strength in our lives. When we face challenges, we can remember that it is God who provides the strength and wisdom to overcome.

In practical terms, this means daily prayer for guidance, seeking counsel from trusted friends and mentors, and staying open to the Holy Spirit’s leading. It means being stewards of the gifts and opportunities God provides, and sharing His love and provision with others, especially those in need. By doing so, we live out the legacy of David, serving as shepherds in our own right, caring for the people and the world around us.

 

In 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, the Apostle Paul speaks about his experiences of weakness and God’s provision. Here’s how we can apply these themes to our lives:

  1. Embracing Our Weaknesses: Paul boasts of his weaknesses because it is through them that Christ’s power rests on him. We too can embrace our vulnerabilities, knowing they are opportunities for God’s strength to shine through us.
  2. God’s Sufficient Grace: Paul learns that God’s grace is sufficient for him, even amidst his struggles. In our lives, we can rely on God’s grace, trusting that it is enough to carry us through our challenges.
  3. Strength in Weakness: The paradox that when we are weak, then we are strong, is a powerful principle. It encourages us to lean not on our own abilities but on God’s power, which is made perfect in weakness.
  4. Provision for Ministry: Despite his “thorn in the flesh,” Paul continues his ministry, supported by God’s provision. Similarly, we can persevere in our callings, confident that God will provide what we need to fulfill His purposes.
  5. Testimony of God’s Work: Paul’s experiences lead him to testify about God’s work in his life. We can share our stories of how God’s sending and provision have been evident in our lives, encouraging others and glorifying God.

Applying these themes means acknowledging our limitations and allowing God to work through them. It’s about finding strength in our faith and the community, and witnessing to the transformative power of God’s grace in our everyday lives. It’s a call to humility, recognizing that our achievements are not solely our own, but are made possible through God’s sending and sustaining presence.

 

In Mark 6:1-13, we see the themes of God’s sending and provision as Jesus sends out the twelve disciples on a mission. Here’s how we can apply these themes to our lives:

 

  1. Sent with Authority: Jesus sends the disciples with authority over unclean spirits. We are also sent into the world with a mission and authority—not our own, but that which is given by God.
  2. Provision Through Others: The disciples were instructed to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts. This teaches us to rely on God’s provision, often delivered through the hospitality and generosity of others.
  3. Accepting Rejection: Jesus warned the disciples that some places would not welcome them. In our lives, we may face rejection, but we are called to persevere, knowing that our worth and mission come from God, not human approval.
  4. The Power of Community: The disciples were sent out in pairs, emphasizing the importance of community. We too are called to work together, supporting one another in our shared mission.
  5. Simplicity and Focus: The disciples were to travel light, which speaks to a life of simplicity and focus on the mission. We can apply this by focusing on what truly matters and letting go of material distractions.
  6. Trust in God’s Care: Despite their lack of provisions, the disciples were to trust in God’s care through the hospitality of others. We are reminded to trust in God’s care for us, even when we cannot see the full path ahead.

By applying these themes, we are encouraged to step out in faith, trusting in God’s sending and provision. We learn to prioritize our mission, embrace community, and find strength in God’s authority and care.