dinner church - sundays @ 5:30pm

Invitation. Peace. Celebration.

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace to this house!' 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near to you.' 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 "Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.'

16 "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" 18 He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

Today, we take a break from our regularly scheduled programming, our summer series on KINDRED’s values, to explore this text about sending, peace, and celebration. Jesus has spent the first part of the gospel of Luke being born, growing up, teaching, preaching, and healing in his own neck of the woods, familiar territory and remote enough as to be outside the interest of Rome and its power.  But now he’s journeying toward Jerusalem. A time of transition has come and the gospel hits the larger road.  It will be a long journey and challenging journey, but also a joyful journey.  The journey doesn’t mean they take a break from sharing the Gospel, saving their good stuff until they arrive at the really important place, but all along the way, Jesus and the disciples continue to multiply, to tell their stories, and practice hospitality. This text is rich with things that intrigue me, starting with the very first verse:

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.

Did you know about the 70? Often when we picture Jesus and the disciples, we picture just 12 other men.  Just 12 people, 12 tribes of Israel. The people of God. We picture the last supper. And it’s true, the Jesus movement had to start somewhere, gathering just as a small handful. But a movement naturally gains momentum and multiplies. The 70 never get their names on the billboard, but Jesus assures them their names are written in heaven.  The work of the Spirit THROUGH them is what’s noteworthy.

At first glance, we might also look at the growth from 12 to 70 as significant and it is, but it’s not just about the success in recruiting new followers. It’s not just Exhibit A in the gospel of bigger and better.  It’s actually a profound statement about the vast expanse of the kingdom of God. Here we see that the Good News of Jesus Christ is not just for a special few lucky enough to be born into the 12 tribes of Israel, the privileged nation of Israel, it is for the multitudes.  70 is this number that represents the tent of God growing wider and wider. It signals that the mission of the church is not only for a small group, but for the nations. Indeed, this Good News is for the whole world.

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.

The 70 were not sent our as lone rangers, but in pairs.  In this mission of preparing the way for Christ, we are told: “Don’t go alone.”  With two, there is always someone to be encouraging if one of the pair is discouraged, to keep faith if one is dispirited, and to carry on when one feels tempted to quit. Just think about Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee… We could probably think of plenty of these dynamic duos. This discipleship thing can be hard, but it’s always easier with a companion.

So I want you to think about, how can you invite someone to join you this week?  I’m not saying you have to put on button down shirts and go door to door, just how can you share life with another person this week?  How can you invite someone to join you on your journey?  For example, last week I needed to finish cutting out this craft project, so I invited a neighbor to join me.  It didn’t have to be some extra thing, it was an opportunity to share something with another person and hang out in the process. So how can you invite someone to join you this week?

What I find particularly amazing about this passage is not the miracles but the willingness to be dependent on others. Think about it: no purse, no bag, no sandals and, importantly, no guarantees about how they will be received. I mean, I packed 4 pairs of shoes for two days out of town this weekend.  All they have is the promise of Jesus to go with them, to do great things through them, and to bring them home again.  That’s daunting and humbling, but also liberating.  This Kingdom of God, it’s not about masses and money. It’s about valuing people not things.  God sends just 70 with no purse.  We don’t have to be the richest church or the biggest church to be a part of the work of God.  We don’t have to have the right accessories, the best-looking banners, or perfect hair to share God’s promise of love. Where two or three are gathered…

There’s no “stuff” that will make this work. It is the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in us that accomplishes the ministry. We let the Spirit do the heavy lifting.

But just because we’re sharing and depending on one another, doesn’t mean everything will work out like magic. It’ won’t be easy or without pitfalls, dangers, roadblocks, and rejection, but…Jesus tells them to keep moving.  Not with vengeance or hatred, but in peace.  Moving onward. 

The good news is that the reign of God, more traditionally “the kingdom of God”, is not pie in the sky when you die. It is right here. It is breaking into our world.

In what ways has the reign of God come near you? Tell your story, invite others to share their story, offer a word of peace, and celebrate what God is doing through you. Point to the God who shows up in the everyday stuff of everyday life.


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