July 3rd, 2016: "We As Laborers!"

Text: 2 Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30;                       14th Sunday in Ordinary Time                        Sandy Nuernberg

Galatians 6:1-6, 7-16; Luke 10:1-11, 16-20        7th Sunday after Pentecost                                 Pastor

Title: “We as Laborers!”                                    Communion Sunday, Coffee/Fellowship

First Presbyterian Church                                   Sunday, July 3rd, 2016                                 Pardeeville, WI

 

Please pray with me, Lord, in these moments we ask that your Holy Spirit descend upon us; help us to listen faithfully with open ears and contrite hearts so that we might discern wisely what your Words and works in our lives might be and become. AMEN.

 

            As we absorb God’s Word(s) of scripture into our hearts and minds, and now celebrate our freedom as a nation, it is apparent there is much ‘meat’ to this matter of going out and becoming disciples of Christ—you know, this Christian mission we have in the world and how it’s been handed on to us. The question we might ask ourselves is how do we as laborers venture into such a task; as Presbyterians how do we think about it theologically and then act upon it in living faithfully?

 

            For starters, all along, it seems there has been power in numbers! ‘Standard practice’ long ago was to send others before any prominent person arrived on the scene at any town or place. Think of it, today: we as pastors are taught, trained not to discuss politics in the pulpit, but I venture to say that a politician in this election year probably doesn’t go into a territory that is not welcoming; it just doesn’t happen. The ‘Master’ (Jesus, in The Message, p. 1426) of our text today, confirms that as well. He gives a ‘travel-log’ of what to take, how to act, and what not to say!

 

In Jesus’ day seventy was a crowd; instead of the gospel’s 12 disciples, Luke numbers 70 of them, two, by two, as they ‘prepare the way’ in their going, greeting, eating, and watching, listening, yet proclaiming the kingdom of God. Seventy was another symbolic number to the Jews; their council was the Sanhedrin, those supreme helpers to Jesus. We remember that Jesus first called twelve, a smaller number (his disciples in Luke 9:1-6, Matthew 10:9-15, Mark 6:8-11) and gave them the power and authority; he commissioned them to teach, baptize, and do extra-ordinary work(s). Seventy was also the number in Luke’s writing of all of the nations of the world at that time.

 

Today, GEICO advertizes, ‘We are great, in numbers!’ (Nationally, they are the second largest major insurance company). Today, a large number or crowd might be the event we are attending—our book club (a few), a rally (twenty-forty; this election year a campaign rally might include thousands!), a high-school or university football game (hundreds or thousands), or the concerts on the square at the state capitol which started this week (thousands or more)! It seems prudent (perhaps sound judgment!) to mention that many of us are proud, glad, in gathering in numbers of same-beliefs/thoughts; we are most comfortable when others are ‘like’ us! (See Time Magazine, July11-18, 2016, “240 Reasons to Celebrate America Right Now”).

 

I venture to guess that even in numbers, being a Christian in Jesus’ day, in our world today, was and is not easy; we are baptized as lambs, Jesus warns us, and we go out into a world of wolves! We must ask ourselves if life’s opportunities, our happiest moments, in our best intentions with others, are we not involved with more than a bit of stress and strife? We have to admit, I think, that in time periods of proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in our actions as we journey in our faith, we do experience success along with failure. That’s what I think our texts claim to us today; a message of peace and freedom to be close to our conscience in our thoughts, along with the responsibility and opportunity of believing these truths told us in our texts, and living them faithfully.

 

You ask, do I believe, do I trust these words of scripture; yes, and I’ll tell you why. We only need reminders of this last PC(USA) General Assembly meeting in Portland, Oregon( June 18-25th ), to help us understand our faith calling and our decision-making along with many other Presbyterians in attendance who may or may not agree with one another. Or, for that matter, this last week at our Session meeting, when I was so bold, yet scared, to ask what the general functions were of our church committees. I was heart-warmed by those of you who enlightened me in the ongoing operations of this beautiful church—many behind-the-scenes activities; I felt respected and not chastised that I wanted to understand how and why things were taken care of by committees and not by individuals that ‘always had done it that way.’

 

I’ve often asked, as God’s ‘workers’ isn’t it all right to be faithfully in thought, sometimes in disagreement? I think it is. I think God places us in situations and asks us to faithfully think about what our intensions are, and then for us to faithfully fulfill what God has lead us to be and do. Like Jesus’ first followers, we are living proof of what God intends for us, yet also we are proof it won’t be easy.

 

Think of it, don’t we as parents refuse to let go of our children? Jesus isn’t sure his paired disciples are ready and able, either, to face the wolves of the world! He says, ‘offer peace’ at the outset of your visit---begin with that. Yet we know, you and I, that in our world, mal-functions, bad-blood, even violence exists in homes—all we need do is read on-line, watch the 6:00pm news, or have the paper in front of us, about the sensationalism of many a domestic event; getting our attention is mostly not positive.

 

We also know that in our Christian living, we are obligated to be caring, sensitive, in watching out for one another. We are also asked to hold each other responsible, accountable, in our faithfulness, in our living out what God asks us to do, not carrying burdens we need not carry. We are tested repeatedly, and we will slip-up on occasion, yet we can get back on track; God is, oh, so patient with us. In our patience, in listening to each other, in our not being haughty or arrogant, in our approaching others with grace, wisdom, love, a peace that passes all understanding will return to us in time.

 

As we come to the table of the Lord’s Supper, you and I, let us bring God’s Spirit and peace to our hearts; let us be lambs in our living faithfully. As God’s stewards, let us continue to grow in this ordinary time of seeds to the harvest we receive, and let us make wise decisions for opportunities in building our community, strengthening our church. This place is where we belong and where the reign of God is near. Peace be with us; let life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness be with us as a nation, and let us be workers for the good of all, especially for those of the Kingdom, our family of faith.

 

                                                            Thanks be to God.               AMEN.             

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