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How can we fulfill our responsibilities to our employers and families if we are risking our safety and using our resources to indiscriminately help others? Maybe we already know the answer.


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Moses sure seemed to think so in his farewell speech in Deuteronomy: Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it? All of the synoptic Gospels include the sending of the 12 disciples, but only Luke tells of the sending of the 72 or 70 depending on the translation.

Take them to the tent of meeting and have them stand there with you.

Then I will come down and speak with you there. I will take some of the Spirit who is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you bear the burden of the people, so that you do not have to bear it by yourself. Jesus is making it clear that spreading the Gospel is a big job that will take a great deal of help.

I am sending you like lambs among wolves. There is no promise of safety or success -- they are not given theological genius to persuade those they meet of the truth of their two statements.

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For those of us who are uncertain of our role in the spreading of the Gospel, this should be reassuring. God is near you. This is not a reflection of our own abilities to explain the Kingdom of God; no human is able to do that. There is no shame in struggling to put our faith into words, in being unable to explain why bad things happen to good people, in being viewed as simple-minded for our beliefs. We are to shake the dust of the doubts of others from our feet and move forward. Throughout his ministry, it is the demons who have most reliably recognized him.

This takes even more pressure from us. It is not our calling to defeat evil in the world.

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Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. National discourse from all sides has become a discussion of what is ours, our rights, inalienable and God-given, verses our obligations. Our government seems to have descended into a partisan rabbit hole where the greatest goal of both parties is to deny any victory to the other. On a personal level, our society seems to have reached the point where the rights of the individual are more important than the good of the community.

What do you think would happen today if the military draft was re-instituted? If you had to apply to the local rationing board to buy new tires for your tractor? If gas was rationed? What would the reaction be if ration books were distributed today? Would the sacrifices that were made across our country, not only by those who served, but by those who did without for the war effort, be possible today? I am not saying that people were better back then, and I am certainly not hoping for an international event that forces us to unite or perish as a country. I am only wondering if the mindset of subordinating individual rights for the common good is possible in the current environment.

It hardly seems necessary to point out that all of these things are sins or that most of us have engaged in some of these behaviors. That is, of course, where Jesus comes in.


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  6. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Instead, we can share the yoke with Jesus, which, counterintuitively, makes us free. Free for what? It is through our faith, not through laws, that we experience healthy communities.

    While our government squabbles over whether or not immigrant children should be given soap and toothbrushes, we can experience the joy that comes from doing what is right, from love and service to one another. This might come as a shock, but there was something special about Jesus.


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    7. Ironically, it was the devil and the demons that Jesus encountered in his time on earth that make that the most clear. Sound familiar? The disciples response? It reminds me of a professional wrestler: in this corner, from parts unknown, with the strength of a legion of soldiers, the Gerasene Demoniac! Picture this man racing down the hill toward Jesus and the disciples as they secure their boat -- naked, filthy, long, matted hair -- trailing the remnants of restraints from his arms and legs -- bleeding from where he has pounded his head against the rocks -- screaming at the top of his lungs as he emerges from the tombs -- scrambling and stumbling full speed.

      It must have been quite a sight! Even though they are in gentile territory and living in a time where many different gods are worshipped, the demons know that Jesus is the son of the one God, the real deal. And they were afraid.

      We should also consider how we might respond to a demonstration of power that is beyond our understanding and control. How would we fare in the presence of God? It is understandable that the newly-healed man wants to go with Jesus. He has been disconnected from his community for a long time, and Jesus has just given him his life back. He is the person who he was always meant to be. That perfect person lives inside of all of us, waiting for the light of Jesus to set it free. It is one thing to think about the salvation of people on the other side of the world, and another to work with our own friends and families.

      There are two areas of premarital counseling that make me nervous: sexual expectations and spirituality. It is the same with my own friends and family -- I am afraid to be that guy who makes everything about God. How does this crazy story apply to us today?

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      First of all, it reminds us that there is a real struggle between good and evil in the world. Secondly, we are reminded that we already know who will win. Finally, we see further evidence that we are all called to serve the Lord in unique ways. Today is Holy Trinity Sunday. I assume that you all lept out of bed this morning looking forward to having me explain the Trinity to you in extremely technical language. After all, the Trinity is the defining difference between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

      It seems logical that a part of the ordination process would be the requirement that the Trinity be understood, but here we are. We begin to see that God is a lot bigger, a lot more alive -- a lot more than we are. One of the questions that plagued the early church was how to explain how Jesus could be both human and divine. It would make more sense to us and sound more like mythology if God simply disguised himself as a human.

      It would also be easier to believe that Jesus was a gifted teacher, an exceptional prophet, or a legendary figure along the lines of Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill. The author of John was surely aware of this, and he went out of his way to include the Holy Spirit in the conversation. In the Nicene Creed, we also say that we believe in one holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church.

      When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.