“After this the Lord appointed seventy two others and sent them out ahead of him to every town and place where he would go.” (Luke 10:1)
It had all begun with just 12 of them. A group of hard-bitten, rough unsophisticated, sun tanned fishermen. How they, with along with a tax-collector every one hated for being a collaborator and money maker, a man who was going to betray him and one or two others picked up along the way…how they were all called by Jesus and empowered by God to begin the greatest work of all time.
And in today’s gospel things have moved on. Those same people and many others…72 of them.. are being sent out two by two. They are to travel light. They are not allowed to take anything with them, no purse or bag or sandals. No luxuries not even a loaf of bread. They are being taught to live by faith and rely on the generous hospitality of others, accepting the gifts others are able to share. They are to be committed to the task in hand. They are not to be distracted by meetings on the way and must move on if they are rejected. They are to be open to the needs of others and they are to bring healing, good news and peace.
But this is a sharp lesson in trust. They are to be like sheep among wolves. As each pair went along the road they must have wondered, questioned, felt sick with fear, looked for any excuse to go back, tell Jesus they wanted, needed much more training. But all seems to have gone well. The 72 come back with joy telling Jesus that even the demons have submitted to them in his name.
But all this rattles our doors. We live in a world of turbulence, uncertainty, suspicion, criticism and division. Yet we are called, you and me, to go out into that world to do the work of love and speak the word of life. None of us are here by accident; by our baptism we are called to be God’s people in the world. We are not passengers but pilgrims, not spectators but disciples.
But there is hope and encouragement for us…
“You did not choose me I chose you” Jesus tells us. When he calls us he sees our potential, the gifts we have each been given that can be used. Jesus sees us as we are and calls us despite our faults and failings and ability to get it wrong and want to play God. There is no such thing as redundancy in the Kingdom of Heaven. We follow a person, not a programme. We follow a Saviour who keeps his promises and who goes on loving us with a love that cannot, will not, ever let us go.
And our little is always much in God’s hands. It’s not so much about what we have to offer but into whose hands we are putting it. We’re called you and me not just for our own well-being but to love and share.
Discipleship is not about privilege and power and position, Its not about grandeur and glory. Discipleship is about service and taking extraordinary risks when we try to love our God, our neighbours and yes ourselves, in equal measure,
The harvest out there is plentiful but the labourers are few. But there’s a lot of labourers here this morning waiting to be sent out in the power of the Spirit to live and work to God’s praise and glory…. sent out to live and love and share.
God of our lives,
you are always calling us
to follow you into the future,
inviting us to new ventures, new challenges,
new ways to care,
new ways to touch the hearts of all.
When we are fearful of the unknown, give us courage,
when we worry that we are not up to the task,
remind us that you would not call us
if you did not believe in us.
When we get tired
or feel disappointed with the ways things are going,
remind us that you can bring hope and change
out of the most difficult of situations.
May God bless you on your journey as one of his disciples.