Summary: In order for the Kingdom of God to grow we need to welcome the stranger, the sojourner into our midst. 'Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.'
This week my 3year old grandson is going to see the nursery he will be using from September.
The idea is to introduce him to something new, something strange so by this initial visit he will get to know what to expect when he goes there in September.
Hopefully he will see something that will excite him, something he will want to see again in September.
Getting to meet the staff who will look after him and know how friendly they are, even to look forward to going there because of the games and activities he will be immersed in.
He is going with his mother but in September he will be dropped off by his parents and left to his own devices.
So this induction, this welcome is vital for him so as to introduce him to a new stage in his life.
Today's gospel is all about the mission that Jesus sent his new recruits on and for 3 Sundays this has been the theme.
Their role in mission, even what they should do if rejected.
Today the message is the same, in order for the Kingdom of God to grow we need to welcome the stranger, the sojourner into our midst.
Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me (Matt 10:40)
Our problem is in this very verse – how welcoming are we? How easy is it for the stranger to come into this Church and join us in worship?
How easy is it for us to talk about our beliefs and our hope embedded in the Lord Jesus?
Imagine the scene of a relay race, we're cheering our team as each of them runs their lap, pushing themselves to the very limit.
The baton is handed on smoothly each time, and the exhausted runners stumble from the track to watch their team mates complete their laps.
At the finishing line they're cheering on the runner as loudly as we are in the stands and we've done it!
All that hard work has been worth it. Our team has won.
An outstanding team effort, against all the odds; and now it's time for the medal ceremony, and all four of them are on the podium.
Our flag is raised, our anthem is played and our whole country celebrates.
There's something of a relay race in today's Gospel: Jesus is handing on the baton.
He's sending out his closest disciples to continue his own mission proclaiming and putting into practice the good news of the kingdom of God.
In this chapter the 12 disciples have been appointed and then Matthew records the instructions that Jesus gave them for mission.
They were to heal the sick, drive out evil spirits, witness to Jesus and announce that the Kingdom was near.
It would be a difficult task and they would need to risk hardship, rifts with their loved ones and even their very own lives.
Why, then, should they bother? Why should we bother with mission?
Today Jesus sums up the whole purpose of their mission.
The people who listen to them, the ones who welcome the good news they bring, will receive a reward.
The key for me is in this word we use so often – WELCOME its 2 words put together WELL COME.
This immediately brings to mind that wonderful verse spoken by Jesus – Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden and I will refresh you. WELL COME!
Have you ever thought why you are here this morning – what motivated you to come to church all those years ago.
Was it encouragement by your parents, was it a parish priest who guided you along the road to life, a friend who told you about the choir and the joy of singing.. whatever inspiration you were originally given.
It was the baton in the relay race of life that took you to the finishing line. And YOU WON!!
Today we are the disciples of Jesus, we are the runners.
The baton has been passed on to us and the Good News we have is so good that we want everyone to have a chance to hold it!
Like dedicated athletes, we are not coerced into this race, but enter it willingly and the reward for this race is NOT earned but freely given.
Like the original disciples, we are called to spread the good news of the kingdom of God, the good news of God’s love.
What a privilege, what a responsibility! But talking about it isn’t enough it needs to be put into practice, just like the disciples.
Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
WELL COME – Come unto me
Jesus didn’t just preach about the kingdom of heaven: He opened the door to all who would listen to the Good News, in Jesus, is the word of God, love in action. Pass it on!