Summary: PENTECOST 8, YEAR B - Jesus declares His call to ministry
A retired couple is at home one day when the husband states that he’s going out for an hour. “While your out could you pick up some trash bags and a gallon of milk,” asked his wife. “No problem” he said. “Now write it down,” she said, “so you won’t forget.” “I won’t forget,” says the husband, “it’s in here (pointing to his head) and it won’t get out.” “Now dear, you have the habit of forgetting things. You better write it down.” “I don’t need to write it down, I won’t forget.” About an hour later the husband returns and plops down on the table two turkey subs. The wife, looking at the two subs, says to her husband, “I told you that you would need to write things down. See, you forgot the sodas.”
THE COMMAND TO GO
As Jesus prepared to leave his disciples, and to ascended up into heaven, he gave his disciples one final command. Jesus said, “Go,” and they went and in their going the world was forever changed. All corners of the earth would be reached by their travels. All people of every nation would be touched by their coming. Even the calendar used today by most of the world sets it’s start date on the life, death, and resurrection of this man called “the Christ.” But as the church prepares to enter the New Millennium, the 21st Century, we find ourselves facing: declining church attendance; a growing lack of commitment to Sunday School; Families and Children drawn away from the community of faith by television, video games, shopping, and sports. Biblical illiteracy and a lack of Christ-Centeredness. And I’m inclined to ask in the midst of all this, “In all of our going, have we somehow forgotten why it is we were sent by Christ in the first place? forgotten what it is we were suppose to be doing in the midst of all of our going?” Now it’s not that as a church we have stopped going or stopped doing. We fill our churches with activities. Our calendars are filled with events and meetings. We are working as hard we ever have. But in the midst of all our going and coming, have we forgotten something, and have we even forgotten that in fact we have forgotten something?
DOES IT MATTER WHICH ROAD I TAKE?
Have you heard the Story of the Doctor who comes to a split in the road on a Vermont back country lane. The road sign at the fork points both directions for the same town. Seeing a farmer beside the road he asked him, “does it matter which road I take to get to town?” The Farmer replies, “Not to me it don’t.” For those who are watching the comings and goings of the church. It may not matter to them which way we are going. Or whether or not we make it to our destination. Or whether or not we accomplish what we have been sent to do. But it does matter to the one who sent us. To the one who went before us into death, that we might go before Him into life. We must remember why it is that Christ sent us, if we are to have the impact upon our world in this new century as the disciples had in the first century. And what better way to remind ourselves why we have been sent into the world then by understanding why it was that God sent Christ. For in understanding the mission of Jesus we come to understand our mission as Christ’s disciples. From Isaiah the prophet we read,
“The Lord God has put his Spirit in me, because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken, to tell the captives they are free,and to tell the prisoners they are released.”
These are the words Jesus would quote in a synagogue in Nazareth where he declared to all those gathered there, “While you heard these words just now they were coming true!” empowered by the Spirit to tell good news Isaiah 61 is God’s mission orders to Jesus. We know this because it says so, “The Lord God has put his Spirit in me, because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor. To tell good news to the poor, and who are the poor?” “Blessed are the poor in Spirit For their’s is the Kingdom of God.” The poor are those who long for the Spirit of God. The poor are those who see their sin ever before themselves and long for forgiveness. The poor are those who know they are in need of God if they are ever to be healed. It is to the likes of these that Christ was sent from heaven above to bring good news.