Shock, Upheaval and Our Daily Work

This is the reading for today, June 15th, from my Smart phone app from the Taize Community in France (Taize Readings).

“ Although there may well be shocks and even upheavals in our lives, Jesus the Christ is present by his Holy Spirit. He will always say to us: “Even when you are going through the harshest trial, I am present underneath your despair … and I am also there deep within your hope.”

The contexts in which you and I live out our faith (by which I mean both the beliefs and the actions) today are full of shocks and upheavals. The terrorist assassination attack on the Republican congress folks gathered for softball practice outside Washington, D.C., that left five people wounded and the lone gunman dead certainly shocked me yesterday. If I were to start listing the other shocks and upheavals in my life now, it would go on and on. Just contemplating our Republic and if we’ve reached the point where our center has collapsed and the differences between us will split the country into pieces pins me to my chair.

I take this context with me as I explore the Gospel lesson from Matthew that is our scripture for this Sunday. Matthew 9:35 – 10:23. It is the recounting of Jesus sending out the 12 on their first missionary outreach.

Without him!

Off they go blessed and gifted by Jesus to do what needs to be done: heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.  All these actions point to the heart of Jesus’ message, “The reign of God is upon you!” The shock and upheaval that comes to the status quo when we do the things Jesus did create turmoil and division. Jesus is clear about this as he prepared the apostles. There was a cost paid by those apostles and there is a cost to be paid by us as we live out our gospel.

A question from the story that we ask is “Well, what happened?” We always like to know how stories end. Were the apostles successful? Were they received and welcomed or were they shunned and banned? Did they heal the sick, drive out demons and raise the dead in the small towns and villages they visited? Did people want to know more about who this Jesus is the apostles follow and who gave them healing powers? Or did they accomplish nothing, fail at everything they attempted and shook the dust off their shoes more often than not? Matthew never tells us the outcome one way or the other. What do we make of that?

We’ve started considering what mission programs and projects our community will support through the First Fruits program beginning in 2018. How do these heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and drive out the demons?

We’re in the midst of calling a new pastor to AMC. How will that person work alongside us to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and drive out the demons?

-- Pastor Ed K.


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