Summary: PENTECOST 5, YEAR C - The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
Last week Rosemary and I went strawberry picking with her parents. When we got to the fields there were already a larger group of people hard at work picking. We each received a card board flat to hold the strawberries we would pick and headed into the fields. As we headed down the rows looking for a good place to start visions of strawberries heaped high and overflowing filled our minds. That is, until we began to pick. After about ten minutes of bending over the rows of strawberry plants our backs began to ache. So we got on our knees and push the flat of strawberries in front of us. Our backs stopped hurting but soon our knees began to give out. Before you knew it Rosemary and I were combining our two flats into one and calling it a day. Have you ever had days like that? Where you start out strong just to end the day worn out and dragging your feet? After days like that are you prone like me when you hear Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful” to want to reply, “Oh, my aching back.” The harvest is plentiful but the harvesters are few! Yes we all know that. We’ve all heard it before. We all know what’s coming next. A call to be more involved. A challenge to be more committed. A prod to serve on one more committee. A nudge to add one more activity to our already overflowing schedules. We know what to expect, after all we’ve heard it all before. “Go therefore, and make disciples” Go, I tell you. go, go, go.
And that’s how we are able to get out of having to do anything. It’s simple really. Who’s got the time to do more then what we are already doing? We are already running here and there, doing this and that. There is work, family, church. There is no more time in the week. We are all booked up. So we can just tune this sermon off. No need to listen a moment more because we can’t comply with what you expect from us. Now if I was a missionary or if I had received God’s call to be a minister, now that would be different. But since I’m not free to go then this sermon not about me, Right? Wrong! For you see, that wonderful passage in Matthew that ministers love to use to preach “Go” actually doesn’t command us to go. In the original language the commandment that Jesus gives is not “go” but “make disciples.” Literally the scripture says, “While you are going I command you make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” So let me ask you, by a show of hands, how many of you are going somewhere this week? It doesn’t matter where, just somewhere? Then that’s God’s call to you and to me to make disciples of Jesus Christ. “The harvest is plentiful,” says Jesus, “but the laborers are few.” “Pray therefore”, he tells us, to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. And so do we pray? Not on you life. Why? Because we know how God works. “Lord please send out laborers into your harvest.” “Ah”, says God, “A volunteer.”
We know there is a need for laborers. We know that God is seeking for those who will labor in his harvest. So like the typical soldier we all take one step backwards, when God asks for the next volunteer to take one step forward. After all, who’s got the time to do one more thing. So we keep our mouths shut. We keep our hands down. Perhaps, we think, God won’t notice us if we just don’t move. You want to bet on it? Wednesday the Cunninghams were preparing to go on a canoe trip. They were just about to leave when one of their neighbors suddenly appeared in hysterics. Her son had just fallen off of his bicycle fracturing his jaw. As she ran off to the hospital with her injured son the Cunninghams were left to look after the rest of the neighbor’s children. Susan said to me, “If they had only left five minutes earlier or the mother had appeared five minutes later then they would have missed each other.” “Surely”, she told me, “God must have been involved.” Yes! Susan, God was involved. He was involved through the Cunningham family For as Saint Theresa reminds us :
“Christ has no body now but ours,
no hands, no feet on earth but ours.
Ours are the eyes through which
he looks with compassion on this world,
Ours are the feet with which
he walks to do good.