And Happy Sunday after many, many, many…too many Sundays unable to worship together. I am so very excited to be joining St. Andrew’s in family, in fun, in worship and in ministry, and today …worshiping together…even via zoom…it really feels like a great beginning.
Our scripture this day is also full of new beginnings…beginnings of leadership, kingship, mission, and apostleship.
Today we get to read and hear of the ‘sending of the twelve, a narrative that is important enough to be in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels…John has a different focus, which we’ll hear about on another day ;)
But today we read that Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two…by…two. However, that isn’t the beginning of the passage…it began with Jesus heading home.
Home, it sounds like the beginning of a lovely story…home is often evocative of welcome, comfort, peace…though perhaps not quiet…and affirmation. However, In Mark we read that Jesus’ ministry wasn’t welcomed…that he was considered presumptuous and where there should have been a welcome instead… people took offence…in fact in Luke’s version they tried to chuck Jesus off a cliff!
Not the greatest start to the sending out of the twelve…I can’t imagine that reception in Nazareth filling the disciples with confidence. But… Sometimes…. in places and from people from whom we expect hospitality, welcome, love, acceptance and commitment …we can sometimes find we’re chucked off a cliff.
In Jesus home town things didn’t go as expected, and we read that that affected Jesus. His ministry was affected, he could do no deed of power…except that he laid hands on a few and cured them. Things were not ideal for ministry…there wasn’t the full participation of the community, and yet…even so we find still Jesus’ ministry went on. The situation Jesus found himself in meant that perhaps no major miracles happened…but ministry still continued…healing continued…Jesus was there. People were cared for. Ministry happened.
In Mark, we read that regardless of the less than ideal situation in Nazareth Jesus began to send out the disciples two by two. This was a key moment in Jesus’ ministry and in the lives of the twelve…this is the moment the disciples…those who learn become apostles…those who are sent.
It’s a famous passage and when we recall it we tend to think of it applying to the apostles, as Jesus sending only those 12 men…however…we have inherited their ministry… we too…you are…apostles…ones whom Jesus sends. Sent out to be Jesus hands, and feet, his word and deeds in the world… each of you…each of us. Apostles.
But not alone…Jesus began to send them two by two…not alone and not all at once. Slowly and together…that how the apostles went out…slowly and together. And that sounds like a good plan to me.
We have a journey ahead of us as we begin this ministry together, as St. Andrew plans to open it’s doors post pandemic, and then to walk right out of them into the community at large to be Jesus hands and feet. Slowly and together. We are not alone, Jesus continues to walk with St Andrew’s and now I get the honour of walking with you as well. We have the privilege of taking this journey together into the future God has for St. Andrews…and that is exciting.
We read that Jesus also ordered the new apostles to take nothing with them except a staff and some walking shoes…no provisions…no baggage. Jesus knows that things sometimes the road isn’t smooth and a stout pair of shoes can make all the difference, and Jesus knows that we need something to lean of at times…to help us mount up to the high places.
A staff, good shoes and fellowship on the road…each one a different and essential support on the journey. That’s what we have here at St. Andrew’s not a history of baggage to weigh us down, but a variety of supports to help us climb. We have those who know the past…who carry our stories…who we are and who we have been.
We have the leadership of the future, the wardens and people who have carried us through a pandemic. We have the blessing of a pastor and priest who walked with St Andrews week by week, through some most troubling times… offering worship and care to strengthen you as you walked. We have wisdom, experience, care for each other and a hope for tomorrow. Our staff and our shoes. Solid supports as we are sent out by Jesus…apostles all.
And good supports are always needed as Jesus well knew. He told the apostles that some places will welcome them…and good, stay there, abide with them. And some places will not welcome the message or those who bring it…very well…shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.
Things are looking bright here at St. Andrews…COVID stats are declining, a new priest has started, the leadership is looking optimistic and God willing we plan on in person worship in September! But there will be bumps here and there…there may even be mountains on the way. However, like Jesus told us…we have our supports to uphold us on the way.
When we walk this journey, together, with Christ… we support each other and we commit to one another. Jesus told the disciples “when you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place.” That means the apostles shouldn’t up and go when a better offer raises it’s head…that they shouldn’t flit from place to place as the opportunity allows or the going gets tough. Jesus tells his apostles to commit, to stay…something the monastics call the vow of stability. A commitment to stay in one place and do the ministry to which you are called. Stability. Commitment. Covenant…another word we’ll hear more of.
And if something goes wrong? If the ministry we embarked on shows no fruit? If there is no welcome? If all we have for our hard work is dust? Shake it off and do not let it cling. Jesus told us to leave our baggage behind…there is no need to carry the dust of rejection. Instead, Shake it off and let that dust left in our shadow speak out that we are not going to dwell in past and in rejection, but journey on into ministry to which we are called. As Mark…in his abrupt and quick styles says… “So they went out” and so shall we. We too shall go out…together, supported, being Jesus in our church and community.
It’s a long road, with twists, turns, new friendships, familiar ministries and new mission, and very soon friendly faces…in REAL LIFE. That first in person coffee hour is going to last forever!!!!! We are disciples of Christ…those who learn and we are apostles of Christ…those who are sent. We are beginning a new path of ministry and slowly, together we will see where we are being led. A very exciting prospect indeed.