Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
July 13, 2003
The Gospel: Mark 6:7.13
Sermon: "Preparing for the journey"
The Rev. William D. Oldland
He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Preparing for the journey
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost - July 13, 2003
My family and I just got back from a two week journey. I have compiled a list of some of the things we had to take on our journey. We packed four suitcases of clothes, shoes, toothbrushes, combs, hair brushes and assorted other items. We carried fishing tackle, rods and reels, cameras, a playstation 2, baseball gloves and baseballs, games, books, and golf clubs. This list only covers what we carried in the car. We also towed a trailer with a go-cart and coolers.
In short, the car was stuffed and the trailer was packed and we were only going to be gone for two weeks. About the only thing we did not carry was a boat. That's because the boat was already down in Charleston.
When you go on a journey what kinds of things do you pack? Just take a moment and go through the mental check list. I'll bet we can all make quite a list.
However, when we think of journeys my guess is we think of vacation or family trips first. These journeys are very different than the journey the disciples are sent on in the Gospel. They are being sent on a journey of mission and ministry. They were given a task to proclaim the good news and to heal the people of God. If we were going on such a journey today, what might we pack? We might take the Bible. We might take The Prayer Book. We might take some tapes or CD's of our favorite music. I am sure there are many other possibilities of things we might want or think we need to carry.
Let's compare our list with the list Jesus gave the disciples for their first journey. According to the account in Mark they didn't need to carry much at all. They were told to take a staff, one pair of sandals, and only one tunic. The list of things they were not to take is much longer. They were to take no bread or bag. They were to have no money and no covered shoes. They were not to take an extra tunic. We would consider these items necessary. We would consider food, money and extra clothing important for the journey. Also notice they were not told to carry any religious writings or prayers. By not having all the added extras they became very dependent on God. God would supply their needs. God would help them proclaim the good news. God would heal the people they met and touched. The incredible part of mission and ministry is that God is always with us, God supplies our needs, and God makes incredible things happen.
Now, I am not suggesting that we should sell all we have. I am not suggesting that we only keep one pair of shoes or one set of clothes. I am suggesting that as God's disciples we have been given a task to proclaim the good news. I am suggesting that God will be with us on our journey. I am suggesting that God still makes incredibly wonderful things happen.
We have two very concrete examples of these facts occurring in this congregation shortly. The first one will be tomorrow night. The Vestry is meeting tomorrow night for the sole purpose of stewardship. We are going to look at a stewardship statement for the 2004 calendar year. In addition we are going to share the ministry ideas of our commissions for 2004. Finally, we are going to begin the process of developing the budget for 2004. We have good people on our vestry. They are working hard in their commissions to prepare this church for the mission and ministry at hand by establishing attainable goals and objectives for this church. They are also attempting to give the entire parish a broader sense of the meaning of stewardship. Stewardship is not only about money. Stewardship is a way of life. In our stewardship statement our desire is to show everyone that God and serving our God is first in our lives. Our desire is to show everyone that exhibiting our love for our neighbor in tangible ways is second in our lives. We want everyone to know that we desire to be forgiving and loving followers of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The journey begins with these first steps by our vestry.
The second concrete example will begin next Sunday. Next Sunday this church will commission the youth of this parish to go on their fourth mission trip in as many years. The youth and the advisors are the hands, the feet and the eyes of Christ and this church. They are taking the love of God tangibly to the homes where they will work. They are supported by the love of God and the love of this parish. Who knows what wondrous works God has in store for us? Who knows what we will learn and what we will see? I am sure that God has many wonderful experiences prepared for all of us. God will not only be with those who go, but also with those who support ministry and mission through prayer and love. We are called to proclaim and bear witness to the love of God in the world. Some of us may go out and some of us may plan ahead. We have many people with many gifts. We are all called.
The Gospel story ends with these words: "So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them." The story ends with the marvelous works of God through the disciples. This little story ends here, but for us it is just the beginning of our journey.