Second Sunday after Pentecost – June 18, 2017
That’s what you do
Jesus is on a mission: teaching, proclaiming, and curing, as he travels through the countryside. He cannot help but notice that the crowds—and there are always crowds—appear harassed and help-less. Who can blame them? Beaten down by problems and cares, surrounded by illness and death, hungry for something (even if they aren’t sure what), and living under the power of demons. They are leaderless and lost. Of Jesus’ possible responses to the crowds—frustration, anger, bewilderment, avoidance—the one response reported is compassion. He is deeply moved by their plight.
Jesus summons and sends out twelve laborers—the apostles—with a mission similar to his own: “Proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ ” For Jesus and the apostles, the mission flows seamlessly from proclamation to curing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the leper, and casting out demons.
The harvest is just as great today. The proclamation is simple; there is no extended talking at people. The work is difficult, and yet there is no prerequisite, no payment, no required response to the proclamation before healing. Mission always begins with prayer. Ask for the vision to see the work to be done, the willingness to be summoned and sent, and the compassion that motivates it all.
A recent series of insurance commercials describes the response to a given situation matter-of-factly: “That’s what you do.” Ask the Lord of the harvest for laborers, and you may realize that you—the church—have been summoned. Are you ready to be sent? Ready to heal the hurt and restore relationships? To demonstrate hope and life where there is nothing but despair and death? If you are the church, that’s what you do.
Barbara Styers, pastoral assistant, Raleigh Moravian Church, Raleigh, North Carolina