By the Reverend Sally Weaver
In the story about Jesus that we just listened to, we hear Jesus tell his 12 followers we call the disciples to go walking. He sends them on foot out from where they’re staying to hike into other towns and villages. Jesus wants them to preach the Good News.
What is the Good News? It’s Jesus’ message. Here’s the message. Jesus says, I love you, God loves you. God loves everyone – young and old, rich and poor. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or not done. God loves you, God loves every one of us. Always and forever. So you are to love back by loving God, loving your neighbor, that means everyone you meet, and loving yourself. That’s the Good News.
Jesus sends 12 of his followers to tell people that God loves them. It’s a simple but very powerful message. When people really listen and take that message to heart, amazing things happen. They get better. They feel better in their bodies. They feel better in their minds and hearts. The whole world feels better.
So Jesus gave the disciples this important job to do: Take a hike, meet people, preach this Good News that God loves us and that we are to love God, love each other, love ourselves.
What Jesus told them NOT to take:
Can you imagine going on a long hike with nothing?
So, how are the disciples going to survive – they’re not carrying money or food or water or a way to keep warm and dry at night?
They’re relying on the kindness of strangers, of people they don’t know. Now a word about strangers: your parents tell you not to talk to strangers. That’s absolutely right – don’t talk to strangers. Children must not talk to strangers.
But the disciples are not children; they’re adults like your parents and teachers are adults. So the disciples know how to talk to strangers in a way that’s safe.
Jesus tells the disciples to rely on their message and the powerful healing that comes from their message as the way to connect with strangers.
Jesus tells them, “Proclaim the Good news… Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house if worthy, let your peace come upon it…
On their hike the followers of Jesus meet people who listen and respond to Jesus’ message. They open their homes to the disciples, feeding them and letting them sleep there.
In some towns they hike to the disciples find people who are too angry or too afraid to listen to the Good News. They turn away from the disciples and their power to heal that anger and fear. Jesus knew that would happen too. He warned the disciples: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.”
So what do we learn from this story? We learn that Jesus loves everybody and wants us to love everybody, too. We learn that there are lots and lots of people we don’t know and we’ve never met who are kind and loving and followers of Jesus’ message to love God, love each other, and love yourself. We learn that there are some people who are too upset and afraid to do that. We aren’t supposed to hate or hurt those people. We’re just supposed to leave them alone and move on.
We’re Jesus’ followers, too, just like the disciples. And I’ll bet that your parents have a story or 2 about a time when they needed help and they had to rely on the kindness of strangers for that help. After this worship service, you ask them about a time where strangers helped them out. In the time that that happened, your parents and that person stopped being strangers; they share a common bond. So, to be followers of Jesus means we say, and show by how we act, that we love God, we love everyone we meet, and we love ourselves. Doing that makes Jesus smile. Amen.
The Reverend Sally Weaver is co-priest in charge at St. John's.
Various members of the St. John's congregation contribute to this blog. For editorial suggestions, contact Jeff McIntire-Strasburg at firstname.lastname@example.org
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