For those who missed my words of wisdom on Sunday via Zoom.
Six Minute Sermon via Zoom Sunday, June 14, 2020 Chapel by the Sea, Wa
Matthew 9:35-10:8 The Rev. Dr. Linda Flatley
Last week Jesus gave the Great Commision at the end of Matthew and he commissions them “go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” by the Holy Spirit we have the power of all three doing the work of all three in us, with us, and through us. Amen.
This week in Chapters 9 and 10 Jesus is making clear what the mission of the 12 disciples is to be: a local mission not to all nations at this point, and Jesus doesn’t mention teaching. The disciples are still learning and in training. During this internship with Jesus the disciples have been with Jesus day in and day out, they know the teachings and have witnessed the healings, the miracles. And the crowds continue to follow…
I’m struck by the crowds in this text who are described as “harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd”. They are so needy. Jesus has compassion for them because he sees their needs and has responded. Now he tells his disciples to ask God, pray to God for more laborers/helpers, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”.
The disciples actually become the answer to that prayer. Now it’s their turn. Jesus authorizes them to do the work he is doing. Again at this point in their discipleship they are not fully aware of the full impact of Jesus’ authority. This scene takes place before the crucifixion and resurrection. Yet, they believe and follow. Jesus speaks truth to them, “See, I’m sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves” and tells them to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”. Jesus is aware of the resistance he is already experiencing from the authorities that they too will face. Priests and Pharisees, the leaders of their day, will try to prevent the disciples from their mission and the disciples are to expect excessive force and brutality. T
This week across our nation we have seen needy crowds and more brutality. Locally, the demonstrations have been more peaceful. Peace-making is what Jesus taught. He also truth to power and overturned tables and upset the authorities with their unjust systems that oppressed the poor and vulnerable.
Where do we see the need among the crowds and what’s going on in our world?
After months of staying home and staying safe, seeing images of large crowds gathering is something we’ve not seen in a while. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen crowds gather first to enjoy the beginning of summer and then, after the George Floyd killing, we’ve seen crowds in cities around the world risking their lives to protest in the streets along with rioters. Now we’re seeing more peaceful demonstrations. At this point they are sheep without a shepherd: they are aware of the inequalities and needs and looking for help.
As people of faith, as mostly white people of faith in this congregation, we are being asked to help our neighbors across this land, especially persons of color, who have long suffered under civil authorities, excessive force, unjust laws, mass incarceration to name a few. Inequalities we all know exist. Now we have the time, due to stay at home guidelines, to really listen.
I became a citizen of the U.S. only 5 years ago. I’ve been reading the Bible all my life but I only have a basic understanding of the stories of this land from my American History 101 class. I did prepare for my citizenship test by answering 100 questions but those questions were more about the Constitution of the United States. So these past few few weeks I been catching up on the history of racism in this country: watching documentaries like 13th, and movies like Just Mercy, listening to podcasts like 1619 and reading books on racism. I’m holding these stories up to the light of Christ’s love and God’s justice and where the Spirit is moving now in 2020.
What is the need we are seeing in these protests, riots, looting, and peaceful demonstrations? A lot of rage and frustration to be sure. How can we as people of faith help? We are praying more especially this beloved community as we enter day 15 of our 50 days of intentional prayer. How can our prayers be more than words? Like the disciples who prayed for laborers for the ripe harvest. How might we be the answer to our prayers!
Let us pray
Jesus our shepherd you promise that Spirit and God the Father will accompany us. Go with us now. Amen.