Yet, God’s kingdom advances

Homily for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C

5/6 July 2019

Homily for the Parish of All Saints by the Sea/Morning and Evening Prayer/Christ Church, Queensport; All Saints, Canso; St. James, Halfway Cove; Good Shepherd, Tor Bay

2 Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; Galatians 6:1-16; Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Collect for the Day (BAS)

IMG_1118
Church of the Good Shepherd, Tor Bay

Almighty God,

your Son Jesus Christ has taught us

that what we do for the least of your children

we do also for him.

Give us the will to serve others

as he was the servant of all,

who gave up his life and died for us,

but lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. Amen.

+++

I speak to you in the name of the holy and undivided one true God: +Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.

Those who respond to Jesus’ sending to go before him are like lambs in the midst of wolves. Jesus knows that it’s dangerous work and the labourers will pay a price.

The labourers bring the kingdom of God near to all who will receive it. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you,” Luke tells us.

Jesus enlists others to assist him with his work – seventy of them sent out in pairs.  Luke portrays Jesus as a Moses figure intent on sharing God’s Spirit.

Then, Moses chose seventy elders to assist him in the leading of God’s people from their bondage to Egypt – the Exodus.

Now, Jesus is sending out his labourers in a new exodus.

Jesus shares his authority with those whom he sends to do God’s kingdom work. They go with God’s peace, sharing it with all that they meet. They go with authority over all – over disease; Satan and demons, snakes and scorpions.

They travel lightly taking very little with them. There isn’t time to spare packing. What they do take includes the peace of God that they offer to all whom they meet. Where the peace of God is received, they may stay, doing God’s work in that place. All of this is to say that the labourers are bringing God’s kingdom close.

Where they are not received or accepted, they may go on their way – and they remain peaceful, taking their peace along with them. They do not give it up.

But, they do leave the dust of the place behind, shaking it off of their sandals as they depart. All that it takes for God’s peace to come is for it to be received, lived and offered to all others.

The message that the labourers carry is God’s kingdom message. It may not pass this way again. Do you hear the sense of urgency regarding the labourers work?  Indeed, Jesus, as we will discover in what Luke writes following, will not pass this way again. Jesus is set on his pathway that will take him to Jerusalem and ultimately cost him his life.

So, where God’s kingdom message is not listened to, where it is rejected – there is little chance of it returning or taking root. Jesus’ message is immediate, and it frees all who receive itto be the people that God created them to be, living their lives in the Spirit.

This new exodus is unlike anything that has every happened before. It is radically different. The workers are carrying out the peace of God to anyonewho will receive it.

We’re talking about God’s justice here. God’s justice is the way of freedom, love and peace. God’s justice levels the playing field. The rules for this playing field are based on God’s generosity of love and peace, as a free gift for all who will respond in kind to God’s power, healing and love.

This is a good news message, according to Luke, it is for all who will receive it – no exceptions. Those who refuse it, exempt themselves from life in the Spirit.

Jesus sends out the labourers with a message that confronts those who prefer to fight evil with evil. Jesus knows that his contemporaries, on the whole, aren’t looking for peace. They are looking for one who will conquer their traditional enemies once and for all. Instead, Jesus brings a different vision of God’s kingdom. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is out. Two wrongs will never make a right, as the sayings go. Judgment, hate and vengeance only bring about more of the same.

It’s like those who reject the workers that Jesus sends out; they reject God. They reject God love and God’s way of peace.

I wish that I could tell you that this story from long ago was embraced by everyone. I wish that I could tell you that all people accepted the invitation – the good news, the peace and the love that those labourers carried with them to share with all – good news that led all people to live in the love of God with grace and generosity toward one another.

But, sadly, that has not happened. And, we are the labourers of today. It’s our turn to  share God’s generous grace with all. God’s extraordinary, dynamic love is the life force that is the healing agent for the ills of the world.

As it turns out, this message is as fresh and radical today as it was then. The longing of God continues that none will reject the message of Jesus. The message is this. God continues to offer love for the whole world that would renew all of creation. God continues to wait for us all to realize this.

In the mean-time, whenever Jesus’ labourers go out, the kingdom of God is advancing toward a day when all may know that we are all beloved children of God.

A teacher was commenting on her class’ artwork as her students were drawing. She asked one of her students what he was drawing. “I’m drawing God,” he replied. To this, the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” Without missing a beat, without looking up, the boy exclaimed, “They will. Everyone will know when I finish my drawing in a minute!”

Be encouraged today in your work in your corner of God’s kingdom. Show all whom you meet what God looks like. Even if we’re not sure what God looks like, may Christ be visible in each of us, so that we resemble Christ in God. We may trust Christ’s working in and through us because the harvest is plentiful. Pray that God may be seen in all of creation by all people, and hear Jesus say to you: …rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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