CEC Breaking News!
…Father Riley will lead in Holy Eucharist July 14 and 21, 2019. Jane Barnett will lead us in Morning Prayer on July 28. Please invite others to come and see.
4 PENTECOST, PROPER 9 - C - 19 LUKE 10. 1-11, 16-20
“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."
When I was a young lad growing up in
Back in those days, billboards were sometimes used. However, the most popular means of announcing the date, time, and place of the meetings were handbills placed in store windows or handed out to passer bys on the streets and tacked to telephone polls in the area by the front men, as they were called, who preceded the one who was to come.
As the day approached, huge circus like tents would be erected on a vacant lot with sawdust floors. Lots and lots of metal folding chairs were arranged with a long aisle in the middle. I remember it well because my grandmother took me to one such event to see and hear a particular evangelist.
He was quite popular at the time. Not only was he reported to be an exciting preacher but also one who was said to posses healing powers. Not to name any names, but he was from
In today’s gospel passage, Jesus sends out seventy of his disciples. These were not the twelve we know so well, but seventy others whose names are not recorded for our benefit. Their mission was to go ahead of him into the towns and villages he himself intended to go.
They were to be the “front men” for Christ. Jesus gave them the same announcement to make that he himself had made when he began his earthly ministry - the
However, Jesus warns them that it will not be easy. They will be like sheep in the midst of wolves, meaning that some will welcome them and others will reject them. Either way, they are, as did the prophets of old, to tell them that the “kingdom has come near,” whether they receive it or not.
The Gospel message is not just a kingdom of the future but one that is near. Near, says the prophet Isaiah in today’s first lesson who shared his vision of God’s kingdom. The
Jesus’ invitation into the kingdom has been recognized by the signs of peace and healing. These signs the seventy bring with them too. Their mission is Jesus’ mission. In the towns and villages they enter, they heal the sick and say, “the
Jesus is on his way to
As we see, their mission was a success. They are excited and joyful. They cannot wait to return and give Jesus their “after action report.” “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” Their names may not have been recorded in this book, according to Luke, but Jesus tells them that their names are recorded in God’s.
The fact that their names are recorded in the Book of Life, is what they should rejoice in, Christ tells them, and not that the evil spirits submitted to them. There is more than one lesson in this for all of us today.
As modern day disciples, we do not always see ourselves in the role of an evangelist, but in essence, we are by virtue of our baptisms. The font of life is the beginning of our journey to God where we promised to “follow and obey him as our Lord.” Secondly, we promised, “to proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ.” We were, in essence commissioned as “front men” for Christ in the vows and promises we made at our baptisms.
Let us not forget that in baptism we were buried with Christ and raised to new life in him. A new life that enables us through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to pray to the Father that his kingdom will come in its fullest, as it already is in heaven.
This same Spirit, by which we were sealed in Holy Baptism, strengthens us to live by faith and with the grace of God to acknowledge the reality of the nearness of God’s kingdom now. Our names are recorded. They are recorded in the books of this parish, for future generations to discover.
More importantly, when we were signed with the cross at baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever, our names were recorded in God’s Book of Life. We should rejoice in that above all else.
Like the seventy who were sent out to do the work God in Christ had given them to do, so we too are sent out into the market place of life to do the work God has given us to do: to love and serve Him as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
It is not easy. The wolves are out there yet. It is incumbent upon us, as we continue our journey to God in this life, with the Hope of the life to come, that we ensure that our names remain in God’s Book.
We do this by fulfilling our baptismal vows. This requires a daily renouncing of all that keeps us from the Love of God and by turning again and again to Jesus Christ and renewing our acceptance of Him as our Lord and Savior by putting our whole trust in His grace and love.
Through the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we strive to commit ourselves to follow in His most blessed footsteps, footsteps that will take us from the nearness of God’s kingdom now to the day, by God’s grace, when we enter into the fullness of its Glory forever. AMEN+