We serve and are loved by a wonderous God. I think sometimes it's easy to forget because we get caught up in our day to day life. I know that I am certainly guilty of it. I carry worry & stress much longer than I need to. I am sure you're thinking, wait the pastor forgets to pray. Yes, I forget to pray.
As a child I spent a lot of time in the church office as my mom was the offset print operator. If a member read it, she printed. Bulletins, newsletters, congregational letters, charge conference packets, directories. I learned a lot in that time - many things that have been helpful in my ministry. Her office was in the basement of the building with 2 stairwells leading to it - the front by the secretaries and the back by the pastors. I would often slip up the backstairs and politely ask if Earl or Jim were available to talk. If they had time, they always invited me in and if they did not they would tell me too. Over the years I spent hundreds of hours in those offices. While I was in high school I was having another conversation when the pastor said something that I did not expect a pastor to say. He reminded me that he was human and imperfect too.
The Gospel reading today for Daily Prayer is from Luke 9:1-18. I do not think I've read them together before. Verses 1-9 tell the story of Jesus sending the 12 disciples out into the world to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. They were to take nothing with them. No walking stick, change of clothes or money. If the people welcomed them then they had what they needed. If the people did not they were to shake the dust off of their feet as they left. When they come back Jesus feeds the 5000 by having them sit in groups of 50 and there were 12 basketfuls left over.
When read together we see a model for what the road of discipleship looks like. God sends out not to rely on our self-sufficiency but on the kingdom of God. When we all gather together we see not just that there is enough but there is abundance. There has been a lot of talk about broken supply lines, closed economies and when to open economies. I am reminded that we serve a wonderous God who loves us. I am reminded that the Kingdom of God does not look like the Roman way or possibly even the American way. You see, I skipped over 1 part of the story in the Gospel reading. I told you what happened in 1-6 & 10-18. The middle part is about Herod who is getting reports about all that was going on and "he was perplexed because some were saying that Joh had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, 'I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?' And he tried to see him."
Herod's way - the Roman way did not match what John and now Jesus was proclaiming. The Kingdom of God with abundance and healing for all did not fit with Herod's way which was all for him and little leftover for others close to him. I do not have answers to all the questions that surround us but I do not that I am a child of a wonderous God who promised that his yoke was easy and the burden light. I know I am called to follow Jesus to proclaim the kingdom of God and heal the sick. I know that when we use all that we have together there is always leftover.
This coming Sunday should have been a Faith Fellowship Potluck. For 3 years I have marveled that no matter how much was brought there was always not just enough to feed those who were there but to send it out to those who could use a meal or a night off from cooking. Never has there been not enough. This is the Kingdom of God. I invite us this weekend to share our joy, hope, peace, kindness - to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is here and that there is enough. I invite us to let go of the fear, the anxiety, the worry, the arguing and shake the dust off our feet. I do not know how God does it but I do not have to because we serve and are loved by a wonderous God.
Gracious God, fill our hearts with your promise of the kingdom of God and help us share in the healing of hearts to that together we may see your abundance, through Christ our Lord, Amen.