A sermon based on Psalm 13 and selected verses from Matthew 10 preached on June 29th, 2014.
I’m not the lightest traveler in the world. I used to be the person who packs everything they need for a weeklong trip into a duffel bag, but that’s no longer the case. Things are different now. Two weeks ago, I packed 4 bags to go on a weeklong vacation to the beach. A suitcase spilling over with clothes—two bathing suits. More pairs of socks than there were days. I brought my laptop for work.
Then I had to pack for Riley who, as a dog, you’d think could survive without much, but don’t we like to set up house for our pets where we travel, so he had 2 bags of stuff. Then there was his kennel.
Once you start thinking about all the circumstances and eventualities—all the possibilities of a week away from home—we might has well hoist our entire house onto the top of our car and take it with us. 4 bags for a week away! There’s no such thing as traveling lightly anymore.
Jesus uses the word “Go” 4 times in our passage for the day. This is the commissioning of the disciples and here Jesus gives them their traveling instructions.
There’s nothing here about packing beach chairs or an air pump for all the inflatables they’re taken with them. Nothing here about extra snacks for the drive. There’s not even a reminder to run the key over to the dog sitter before they take off. The only travel instructions Jesus gives them are:
Go. Take nothing with you. Not even your walking stick, a backpack, sandals or extra shirts. Empty your pockets, drop whatever’s in your hand, and just go, he says to his disciples. God will provide you with what you need for the journey.
About a year ago, I was invited by the pastor of my home church to speak about my journey of faith. Every Wednesday evening, a different person in the church was asked to share their faith story with the 20 or 30 there.
The speakers, members of the congregation, were given anywhere from 20 minutes to a half hour to share their faith in whatever way they wanted to. Some who shared their faith story I had known for years and years—since I was a child, and even though we saw each other every Sunday for years on end, what they shared during their 20 minutes was new to me. It was a beautiful thing to experience week by week all these different witnesses of how God shapes lives.
When I was asked to take my turn, I said Yes right away, but I couldn’t really envision what I might talk about, so weeks ahead of time, I started thinking about those formative times in my life, those lessons I’ve learned throughout the years.
The process of piecing together my faith story so it was sharable was a powerful thing. I was so grateful for the process of honing my faith story into one shareable testimony—putting into words all those things that were always just floating around in my head, that I encouraged everyone there that night to write their own 20-minute faith story, even if they never intended to share it out loud.
If someone gave you 20 minutes to share your faith story, what would you talk about?
As my ideas came together about what to say that night, I realized that I didn’t need to write down any notes at all, my story was inside of me—I lived my faith story, there was nothing more familiar to me. All I had to do was step out and share it.
As each of us shared our stories from one week to the next, we all gave thanks that God travels with us and sees us through our journeys—speaks to us in unique ways, and gives us all a purpose and a vocation.
This morning, we’re squeezed into this beautiful Chapel—sitting hip-to-hip and shoulder-to-shoulder. It’s as if the walls of this place are bulging with us. We’re normally spread out in the sanctuary, but here we’re huddled together in this cozy space. Here we gather every week to share our faith with each other, but the real work happens out there.
Coming together for worship on a Sunday morning is like a football team gathering in a huddle before each play. We come together at church to get on the same page after being away since the last huddle, we give each other encouragement, and we get our heads together so we can go out from here and make our next play. See, the truth is, the real work of our faith doesn’t happen here in this huddle we call worship, the real execution of the Gospel happens when we break from his huddle and go out into the world—when we run our routes and make plays for God throughout our week.
The Greek word for church is Ekklesia—it means “to go out”. The whole reason why we gather in church at all is so we can go back out and be Church in the world.
The real work of God’s Kingdom doesn’t happen inside these walls—it happens out there. Sunday is just the huddle. Each week, God calls us to step out of this place with a plan and make plays. To make plays for the Kingdom of God.
The disciples must have laughed and laughed and laughed as Jesus huddled them together and called out their next play. Verse 8 sums up the entire drive the disciples were to execute: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, and throw out demons.
I can imagine the disciples saying,
Ok, Jesus, we’ll get right on that.
To the disciples, it must have sounded like Jesus was calling a hail Mary on a 1st down play.
Is this what Jesus expects of us? To go out there and be him? To perform the same kind of miracles he’s capable of?
Send someone else, Jesus. Call a different play. We’re not fit for performing miracles. No one but you can run plays like that, Jesus!
Let’s not go deep down the field yet, Jesus! The smart thing to do on 1st down is run the ball or maybe a short pass.
But Jesus says go, step out. No need to pack a thing, just go. No need to rehearse your words.
Just start walking and trust. You’ll find your footing along the way. God will take care of the rest, I promise. And if you meet a few folks who don’t have ears to hear what you have to say, shake it off and keep at it. Run another play.
We are all tasked with going out from here to proclaim the Gospel. We all are asked, just like those first disciples, to go out—to take very real steps to heal, offer new life, tend to the sick and to cast out evil where we see it—to share God’s love by feeding the hungry, standing up for their well-being of those who get lost and left behind, to be a voice for those who have been silenced—to risk our lives for the sake of others.
Today we ordain, install, and commission Beth, Chris, Berman, and Dennis at the beginning of this journey as Ruling Elders. It is a journey outward. Into the lands where Jesus sends his disciples.
As both the managing and spiritual leaders of this church, each session member is tasked to preach with their feet. To step out into the world and offer a word of healing and comfort—to risk their own comfort for the mission into which they have been called.
In a world that is so fearful of those who are not like us, we all—everyone of us—have a task: to step out of this place, to step out of ourselves, and to risk befriending and caring for others for the sake of the Gospel.
And as we step out, we do it in the name of the One who risked everything by befriending us and caring for us—the One who preached with his feet—who walked toward the sick and the hungry when others were walking away from them–the One who walks toward us and surrounds us with his comforting and compassionate love and presence. It’s this Jesus who asks us to “Go.” To break from our huddle and make a play for the kingdom of God.
Go and share your story with others—the story of how God has healed you, raised you from death to life, made you whole, and has shined his light on all those places inside of you that were once dark and are now full of light. And in Jesus’ name, preach with your feet. Step out from this place and go be for others what Jesus has been for you. God will provide you with what you need for the journey.
All praises to the One who made it all and finds it beautiful!