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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, July 7, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 10:1–11

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’” (NRSV)

Reflection
One of the most nerve-wracking things that can happen when I travel is letting go of my luggage. On plenty of airplane trips, upon arriving at the departure airport I have given away my luggage to the ticket agent, where it is then checked in for the cargo hold. Later, I am briefly (hopefully) separated from my carry-on luggage as I send it on a conveyor belt through a screener as I pass security. In those moments, my vulnerability is revealed. Almost everything I believe is essential about my life—items to protect and nourish my body, papers for work, books for pleasure, my glasses for reading—all of them vanish, if only momentarily.

I believe that’s the kind of worry that Jesus’ disciples felt when he gave his memorable instructions on their first great mission. Don’t take your bags, sandals, and purse. All of these so-called essential things you can leave behind. That’s a startling reality but an important one to understand in the context of our faith journeys. Jesus, in this passage, is asking us to depend upon the hospitality of others and ultimately of God. That generosity of spirit may be there in others, or as his instructions detail, it may not be. Either way we are placed in a position of vulnerability before our neighbors and asked to rely on the graceful provision of God.

When is it that you have felt that vulnerability, and what have you done with it? Might it have been when you gave of your time to serve or listen to those who are quite different from you in background and perspective? What did it feel like to relinquish control and receive what others have to offer you?

It is in this receiving that Jesus is helping us to understand that kinship and Beloved Community in God’s coming new creation is not about power and control but giving and receiving.

Prayer
God, whose giving knows no ending, help us to receive your good gifts in the surprising and sometimes hidden hospitality of others in our lives. May we let go of the need for control and recognize the peace of your new creation in vulnerability. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

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