Summary: A sermon for the 6th Sunday of Pentecost, proper 9 Series C.
6th Sunday after Pentecost [Pr. 9] July 4, 2010 “Series C”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, you sent your Son among us to reveal your grace, to proclaim your forgiveness, and to assure us that through our baptism and faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, we, too, might have eternal life in your heavenly kingdom. But through our baptism, Jesus also calls us to serve as messengers and ambassadors of your kingdom. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, strengthen us for service and empower us for witness, that we might continue the ministry of revealing your redeeming grace to others. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
During one of the classes that I taught at confirmation camp, I made reference to the fact that Jim Judy, who had been teaching with our camp for several years, was now Pastor Judy. This past December, Jim had completed his studies, received a call to continue serving as pastor the congregation he had been serving as an appointed lay leader, and was ordained. One of the students then asked, “What does ordained mean?”
I then responded to the class that as a result of our baptism, everyone is a member of Christ’s Church. As we progress through our confirmation instruction, we are learning what it means to be a member of the Church, and to begin to assume adult responsibility for our faith. Our baptism does not just assure us that God forgives our sins, and promises us life eternal in his heavenly kingdom. Through our baptism, we are also called to become ministers for Christ, to serve our Lord through various ways that enable his ministry to carry on from generation to generation.
That is why, in our enrichment year at camp, after our students have been confirmed, they spend several hours doing a service project to help further the ministry of the camp. They are encouraged and given the opportunity to exercise their ministry as an adult member of the church. In this regard, every member of a congregation of Christ’s church is a minister. Some congregations even state that fact in their bulletins when they list their staff, where they include the word “Ministers,” after which they state, “The members of St. John’s,” for example.
But then I added that some persons are called by the church to do a very specific ministry. After many years in college and seminary studying the Bible and Theology, and receive a call for a congregation to be their pastor, they are ordained. The bishop and others lay their hands on that person and confirm that their ministry is preach the Gospel, teach God’s Word, and administer the sacraments of baptism and communion. In other words, when a person is ordained, they are given the responsibility of helping the other members of the congregation do their ministry. My answer seemed to suffice.
According to our Gospel lesson for this morning, the number of persons who came to follow Jesus as his disciples seems to have grown to far more than the twelve that he had invited to follow him at the beginning of his ministry. In fact, he commissions 70 or 72 of his disciples to go out and prepare those in the towns and villages that he was about to enter, that the kingdom of God was coming near to them. According to the commentaries that I read, this number may have well included men and women disciples of Jesus, but not the original twelve.
As Richard P. Carlson points out in his commentary, “The first verse in this Gospel lesson raises some eyebrows, in that Jesus is now sending seventy or seventy-two others for mission. Jesus has gone from twelve to at least eighty-four followers. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus has a large group of disciples accompanying him. The original twelve are a subset, selected by Jesus to serve as apostles. By the time of Jesus’ ascension, this number will reach 120 or more.” End quote.
The point is, that Jesus did not just pull these 70 some persons off the street and commission them for ministry. They had been following him as his students, learning from his teaching and preaching, witnessing his healings of those in need, and coming to affirm that in Jesus, the very kingdom of God was in their midst.
The point of this lesson is the fact that as we grow in faith, to come to trust in the teachings and ministry of Jesus, Jesus commissions us to go out and carry on his ministry. As a result of our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, each of us are adopted by God as a redeemed child of God, and an heir to eternal life in his heavenly kingdom. But this is not something personal to grasp, as if it were an insurance policy for future protection. We are also called to live our lives acknowledging to others that this gift of God’s grace, which we have received, can make a difference in their lives as well.