Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July 3 Sermon

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Vacation – What do you pack?
· Lightly – bare essentials?
· Over pack – to be prepared?
· Nothing at all? Relying on others?

When Jesus sends out 70 – they take nothing
· They will rely on others hospitality
· They will proclaim: kingdom of god has come near
· Condemn none; proclaim to all
· Important: not the effect but our names written in heaven

What is Jesus doing?
· Radical vulnerability
· Dependence on God & others
· Not interested in statistics
· Making his ministry our own

We are called as disciples to take up our empty suitcases from here and proclaim the Kingdom of God but there is a question whether we are a traveler . . . or a tourist?

In his book Hidden History: Explaining Our Secret Past, historian Daniel Boorstin writes that there is a difference between the two. Throughout the centuries, travelers were those interested in unfamiliar settings and wild encounters that enlarged the traveler's perspective. "The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience," Boorstin writes. But tourism is a spectator sport full of contrived, prefabricated experiences.

"The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes sightseeing."

The root words for travel and tourist informed Boorstin's study. "Travel" comes from the same word as travail, meaning trouble, work, or even torment. A traveler takes risks, plunges into diverse cultures, and seeks to learn local customs. Unplanned experiences are the traveler's norm, sometimes involving challenging exploits. Travelers eat whatever food is placed before them. They aim to learn as much of the language as possible. Shopping for souvenirs plays no part in their ventures.

But "travail" and sacrifice are not part of the tourist's itinerary. The word "tour," from the Latin tornus, literally means "one who goes in circles." A tourist is a pleasure seeker who passes through different exotic experiences only to return to a comfortable bed at night. Insulated from the noise, the smells and the local people, a tourist's "circle" is complete once he is back home unpacking mementos and photos.

So, on this journey of life that God has set you on, are you as a disciple of Jesus an engaged traveler or merely a tourist passing through? [Adapted from "Tourist and traveler" by Peter W. Marty, The Christian Century, April 27, 2016.]

Jesus sends the seventy-two not just to see the places Jesus will visit but to be his disciples ministering with peace and healing and reconciliation for those they encounter. The work Jesus entrusts to the seventy-two he has now entrusted to us, his church of today. The work is not a pleasure cruise or a comfortable circle where we merely tour; the call of Jesus to the work, the ministry of our baptisms, is the work that begins and ends at this Eucharistic table, for he calls us to be engaged with one another as a means of support, reconciliation and peace, no matter who we are, even where we are not welcomed.

And on this Independence Day weekend, let me end with this story:

Traveling during his term as Vice President, Thomas Jefferson requested a room at Baltimore's principal hotel. The Vice President was traveling alone, without secretary or servants; it had been a long trip and it showed in his clothes and appearance. The proprietor, not recognizing his distinguished guest, refused him a room. After Jefferson left, the proprietor was informed that he had just turned away from his establishment the Vice President of the United States.

The horrified innkeeper immediately dispatched his servants to find Mr. Jefferson and offer him whatever accommodations he wished. A servant caught up with the Vice President at a small inn several miles down the road. Jefferson sent the servant back to Baltimore with this message: "Tell your master I value his intentions highly, but if he has no room for a dirty farmer, he shall have none for this Vice President."

The Gospel Jesus calls forth from us is that vision of the heart that sees beyond stereotypes, politics and appearances, and recognizes and honors the goodness that every human being possesses. On our way, we recognize and honor the dignity that every human as a son and daughter of God. That is the challenge of discipleship: to lift up the humanity we all share as brothers and sisters, all children of God.

Our ministry as a traveling disciple is to seek peace in the midst of conflict; to bring the light of compassion into the darkest of nights; to bring healing and wholeness to the hurting, the fallen, the lost, the desperate, and the grieving. May we be travelers, traveling lightly, doing God’s work wherever we find ourselves this weekend and in the days to come. Amen.

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