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Sunday 3 July 2022: Trinity 3, Fourteenth in Ordinary time, Proper 9

Go in the strength of the Lord
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

By Sue Masters
Anglican Reader, St. Andrew’s, Coventry

Context: Holy Communion service with a congregation of predominately middle-aged and older people
Aim: to encourage all to be heralds as well as followers of Christ

FOLLOWERS

Are you a follower or a leader?

Are you happy to help but not be visible out there?

Confidence affects how we view ourselves, and the input and influence of others can diminish us and our confidence, become a stumbling block in our witness for Jesus. Christ calls us to follow Him, and also to go before Him to make his love known; our confidence is in Christ’s promise: ‘Surely, I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20)

APPRENTICES

As they follow Him, Jesus prepares His disciples to go before him, to speak of Him and His kingdom, to be His hands and feet. Apprentices in the workshop of Jesus learning from the Master, and then like all good apprentices they have to put that learning into practice. This apprenticeship programme is extended to us as we are sent out like the seventy-two to speak of Jesus; encouraging one another as we learn together to be Christ’s heralds.

As we follow, so we are sent, like the seventy-two, into places that have not yet heard of Jesus’ kingdom. It is a big task, but we are equipped by Jesus who gives us guidelines for this role. We have all come to know about guidelines in the last two years, haven’t we? Unlike some of the confusing Covid-19 guidelines we have been given, Jesus is very specific; no equipment is needed, ‘trust in me’ is His directive. That may be scary and I’m sure those first disciples were anxious as well as excited. Trust in Jesus and he will equip and encourage us for the road ahead.

FIELD WORKERS

Luke marks a fork in the road in the life of Jesus, as his path now turns towards Jerusalem and the cross, but also for His disciples as they move into a new way of being. Followers, but also heralds, speaking Jesus’ name into the places where he is not known. Paul, when he speaks and writes to the followers of Christ in places far beyond where the seventy-two were sent, speaks of the gifts the Spirit gives to us as Jesus’ heralds preparing the way. While we may have specific gifts for particular areas of witness and ministry, I believe that Luke is reminding us that are all called to speak of Jesus where we find ourselves. Not perhaps preaching from a pulpit but speaking of Christ’s love to those we encounter in our daily routines; maybe not leading a prayer meeting but offering to pray for people that we know, that we work with, that we meet on the bus.

Luke tells us that the disciples were sent to heal, and we too are sent to heal in Jesus’ name. As we all go forward post-Covid we are called to be part of the healing of our communities; the spiritual healing of our communities ravaged by fear and anxiety, the healing of our churches as we seek to build back. Not just building back our churches but as Christ’s field workers enlarging the kingdom. It might seem a big task, and Jesus tells us this is a big job: ‘the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few’ (v 2) - but we will be equipped for this building back, the restoration of our worship and our witness. This is all done in the Lord’s strength and not our own.

Luke reminds us that we are equipped by Jesus and do all things through him, and this is echoed by Paul: ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13). We are sent to speak words of healing, to speak words of love and justice in the places we inhabit; and all that we do to make Jesus known must be for the glory of God, not for personal aggrandisement.

Jesus tells the disciples then to focus, not to be bogged down but to move on when necessary. We too will need to prioritise in our post-Covid world, whenever that may be and whatever that may look like. As we go forward, we may need to refocus and lose some of the things we did before. What is unchanging is the commitment Jesus gives to us as we go out in his name, a promise that endures: ‘Surely, I am with you always.’

Like the seventy-two, we are called to be joyful in our work for the Lord. And, like the seventy-two, we go out in the Lord’s strength, and we go in peace, joy and love.

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