Posts Tagged ‘Two By Two Mission’

Its Not Over 6-29-14

Today’s sermon is based on Matthew 10:40-42. This is the tail end of Jesus’ address to his disciples before they go on the two by two mission. In order to put the scripture in context I also included additional verses from the beginning of his address in chapter 10. Within the sermon, I talk about the authority of Christ as it is manifested and entrusted to believers. Likewise I talk about what that looks like and how often, particularly in the world today, it doesn’t look the same “as us.”

You can listen to the sermon here:

Note that a few minutes into the sermon, there is a pause in the audio. At this point I am removing my robe to reveal the clothing I’m wearing underneath.

You can also follow along with the sermon text here.

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

Its been a year. Today marks Sunday number 52 since I began the call as pastor of Underwood Lutheran. And I find myself wondering today if you have picked up on my patterns yet…particularly in terms of worship and especially in my preaching. (pause)

Every preacher has their own style, one that develops over time…and I’m no exception. Just about every one of my sermons can be mapped out the same way. An opening story, often times something that happened in my day to day life during the week or an applicable pop culture reference that I describe…typically trying to include a little edge of humor to get you to laugh a time or two.

Then I switch gears into the scripture lesson, attempting to explain how, at least in my mind, the scripture is connected to the opening story…I talk at length about what is going on in the scripture story itself…just what God is up to in the midst of it…I tie in what this means for our day to day lives often times including a list of real life examples to get you all to sit up and pay attention so that when the “good news” of the lesson kicks into gear you all have something applicable to hold on to. Then I attempt to tie it all up together, connecting the whole message up in a pithy final couple of statements…I pause for a brief moment and finish it up with a final “Amen.”

Sound about right? Yah, that’s my style…oh and have you also noticed that they pretty much all start the exact same way? With the opening line “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Have you ever wondered just why I say that? I mean, its not really connected to whatever I end up saying right after it and I’ve even noticed that my tone of voice and delivery tend to switch between saying that line and then actually kicking off the sermon…Weird huh?

So why do I say that line? (pause) Good question. And the answer is that it’s a subtle reminder of the authority represented in the sermon. I don’t just say grace and peace to you. Because its not my grace to offer…and I can’t give you peace…only our God can do that…and that’s why I say it. (pause)

And have you noticed that there are a few other spots in worship where the same sort of thing happens? Does this sound familiar? “As a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ…and BY…HIS…AUTHORITY I declare unto you the entire forgiveness of all your sins…”

I stand before you today as I have for the past 52 weeks…and as every other individual who has come before me, not under my own power…but through the authority entrusted to me by God through Jesus Christ. And I am not alone in this. (pause)

Do you realize…that this same authority is entrusted by God to each and every believer in Christ? (pause) And that includes every…single…one of you. And not just you…but every single believer gathered together for worship around the world today…and not just that, but every believer that has gathered together across time all the way back to the disciples who were gathered together with their teacher and Lord Jesus Christ in today’s story, about to embark on important mission…one in which they would each be entrusted with the same authority…not their own, but God’s authority, manifested in humanity through Jesus Christ, and placed upon every believer through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And as we gather here today, we can ask the question of just what does that look like? Are there signs of this authority? As I look out amongst you today I see individuals gathered together…decent looking clothes…some quite dressy, others not as much…and perhaps as you sit there in the pews, looking up this direction, you recognize normal “authority style” garb on my part too.

I’ll admit it, I’ve got a normal style that applies to worship. You either see me in a suit with my clerical shirt one…or you see me with my robe and stole like I am today…but I ask the question…is that normal? (pause) Or perhaps a better question would be…is that necessary? (pause)

A month ago, we held our blockfest party…a wonderful event that was attended by many in our community, and one of the goals was to introduce ULC’s “new pastor.” If you were there…you may recall that it was hard to pick out just who the new pastor was…because I was walking around like this…
(pull off stole, robe, put on hat and sunglasses to reveal casual outfit)
I remember at several different points when individuals told me I was hanging out pretty incognito…and they were right…because that’s how I view the authority granted to me through Jesus Christ…the office of pastor is given to an individual chosen from amongst the people…it is given to an ordinary person…a sinful person…a person who is equally in need of salvation offered only through Christ. In short…I intentionally dressed casually, just like I am now…to make the point that I am no different than you…I am a fellow member of the human race, fallen…flawed…and in need of a savior.

And as fellow members of the human race who have been fortunate enough at one time or another to have heard the good news of Jesus Christ…that through his life death and resurrection God himself became human, lived a life full of every temptation that we likewise faced…and through his bloody death on the cross overcame the powers of sin and death so that we as individuals may once again be in relationship with our Lord…and through his resurrection we too may share in the inheritance of eternal life…that is the gospel in a nutshell and in today’s story Jesus Christ is charging his followers, both the 12 disciples then and everyone else including us today…to take that very message out into the world. To carry his authority, entrusted to us, out into the world…and why? (pause)
Because we are all members of it. Through each and every one of us the gospel travels incognito…there’s no special type of person…there’s no pre-requisite…there’s no pre test or entry fee or anything else of that nature…there is only the authority of Jesus Christ entrusted to you so that you too might be sent out into the world.

But now here’s the really interesting part…and it requires us to think about just what it is that Jesus tell the disciples…anyone who welcomes you, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. (pause)

Did you catch a theme there? The mission of Jesus’ followers…the authority to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of heaven has drawn near only manifests itself when we cast off all notion of control…and are at the mercy of another individual’s hospitality. Jesus says “you wanna proclaim the gospel…then go be welcomed.”

But just what does that mean for us today? This is an important question to ask especially in the context we are in right now…sitting here…in worship…together as a community of faith where, at least for the most part…we are members…we are the hosts.

And we are aren’t we? Think about it…as worship begins I say a special welcome to visitors. We have greeter before worship…we try to go out of our way to welcome others into worship together and that’s fine…but Jesus us today that this is not our mission…our mission isn’t to bring them in here…our mission is take the good news and go out there…to those that welcome us…

The gospel is not one of gathering, but one of sending…the gospel does not manifest itself by us proclaiming the message to the outside world You need to come in here…you need to look like us…you need to think like us…you need to be just like us…RATHER…the gospel manifests itself when we go out there, bringing the gospel with us of course…but not in order to make them more like us…but rather that we can explore that gospel…that good news with one another…learning from another…and who knows…maybe even discovering that God is already up to something in the life of that individual…and in those moment we might even find ourselves changed by the power of the gospel…the gospel which we have already heard.

And now when I say that…I do not mean to say that we should gather for worship…I do not mean to say that we should not be welcoming to the visitor that chooses to gather with us…these are important things…after all we gather together to hear the word of God proclaimed…to receive the forgiveness of sins…and to share the sacraments…these are all good things…but they do not represent the entirety of life with Christ.

Because a life lived with Christ is not compartmentalized…its all encompassing…yes it includes worship…but it also includes the remaining 6 days and 23 hours of the week…the gospel sends us out…and so I want to you to think about it this way…

The gospel is sending me…or more accurately, Jesus has entrusted me to go out and share the gospel with those that welcome me…even if they don’t look like me…or don’t talk like me…or don’t think like me…and maybe…just maybe through the sharing of this marvelous gift of the gospel, I too will receive a gift…that I too may be changed by this encounter…and that maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly what God has intended all along.

As the church of Christ continues to move into the future, the church is changing…whether we want to admit or not…its changing…and we are called to change along with it…to embrace the other…to shaped by one another until that glorious when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

But before all can confess it…all have to hear it…and only then can the Holy Spirit work to bring them to faith…because if you haven’t heard it you can’t believe it…But once you have…who knows what changes it might just bring about.

Make no mistake, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not just some nice story…its way too brutal for that. The gospel is earth shatteringly awesome…it is utterly beautiful to learn that we have a God who willingly took on flesh, who became one of us…who depended on humanities hospitality…who did all this in order to reclaim the relationship between the individual and the Father…and likewise it is utterly devastating to learn that this relationship can only be possible because God chose to die for it.

That’s big people…we can’t hear it without being changed regardless of what the person looks like who is entrusted to share it with you…and we can’t proclaim it without witnessing how it can and does change those who encounter it…even if the person encountering it, is us.

And so today, I’m not going to try and wrap this all up with a pithy phrase…I’m not going to try and tie up lose ends…because the work of Christ isn’t over yet…we’re all sent and so that means the story’s not done…and if the story’s not done then the proclamations not done…and if that’s the case?