Scripture: Matthew 9:35-10:23
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Jesus, the Risen One, The Teacher, The Lord of the Harvest, co-eternal with God, sent to us by God, the Great Sower, as Emmanuel to show us the way. Jesus sows among us the seeds of Christlikeness in our own mortal bodies, sending us out even as he sent the twelve, giving them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. He commands: “Proclaim the good news: that the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (10:7)
Last week we read the Great Commission, where the resurrected Jesus adds another facet to this sending out: teach all that Jesus taught while he was yet with us in the flesh. Let’s contextualize these two sendings for a moment. In that time, authority over unclean spirits, casting them out, curing every disease and sickness probably meant everything under the sun that was an ailment, from mental illnesses to true spiritual oppression to a skin rash such as hives due to an allergic reaction as well as miraculous cleansing from true leprosy – a wasting disease wherein skin slowly degenerates until, in severe cases, there is none left, bones show, and the patient dies. Did they do that then? Yes. Do we do that today? How do we live out a life of miracles in our contemporary society?
Go out and finish medical school or become a counselor or licensed clinical social worker; volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, leave the comfort of your homes and become itinerate preachers of the good news.
Are we cut out for that kind of work? I am afraid I am not. That being the case, will Jesus pass over me in his calling, or would the calling remain the same so therefore I shall pass out of kingdom favor for not heeding the call and doing the work? What is the kingdom of God today, and how do we enact it, live it, do it, be it, and pass it on?
All these questions bother me from time to time as I struggle with learning how to be a Christ follower in today’s time, age, and location. But thanks be to God that I am not alone. The Gospel of Matthew introduced us to Emmanuel, God-with-us, at the beginning of his account. Here we hare given the promise that he is still with us in the Holy Spirit – that mysterious Trinitarian glue that binds, builds and fulfills the relationships between all of us and enables us to do things outside of our own personal abilities and comfort zones – and even outside the walls of the church.
When we think theologically about it all, it helps us to use analogies such as sower and harvest for God and people. God sowed within us the seeds of our yearning for a faith-filled life, a seeking for God. Jesus came and tended our divine seeds to germination, and now the Holy Spirit bids us grow into strong spiritual trees, pointing to heaven, shading the world, offering shelter, comfort, home, and beauty to the world around us.
Or, we might use another metaphor: God illuminated for us a world in darkness, God as our light burst into flame at the beginning and continues to burn ever more brighter in our souls when we do God’s will. God appeared to Abraham and Sarah and changed the course of their lives with a son, Isaac.
How has God appeared to you? How has your life changed course after encountering the Holy Spirit? Encountering Jesus as or in a friend? Connecting the deep mystery of life in nature and realizing God has been there with you and near you all along?
Turn to your neighbor for a few minutes, I will keep time; and share a moment you remember vividly when God was very real to you.
I will tell you of a time I felt God’s very real presence. I was home visiting my parents once and some how had contracted a very horrific case of food poisoning. I cannot remember a time in my life when I was more physically miserable. I spent most of four hours in the middle of the night sitting on the bathroom floor in pain, fading in and out of sleep but never being able to get up and go back to bed. I finally prayed one of my deepest prayers of longing that I can ever remember, and as soon as I was done praying, I felt my spirit quicken. My stomach’s reacting to every move or slight swallow of water all of a sudden ceased. It was an answer to deep prayer, knowing I could get up now and weekly make it back to bed. Sure enough, I made it to bed and slept the rest of the morning away without need of bathroom or ceramics to assist me.
Thanks be to God! Amen? May it be so.
Question for Reflection
How is God’s presence experienced in a Christian’s life?
Household Prayer: Morning
Holy Presence, let me be with you today. Awaken my senses to the wonders of your creation, and fill me with compassion for every person I meet. Protect me from those who would hurt me; make me watchful so that I do not harm anyone. Fill my inward being with the love of Christ, and inasmuch as it is possible, let others know your presence through me. In this way let me glorify you, Holy One, Holy Three. Amen.
Household Prayer: Evening
Maker of day and night, creator of sun, moon, and all planets and stars, thank you for your protection during the hours I have passed in your light. Guard me, I pray, through the coming dark. As I settle into sleep, recall to my mind each blessing you gave me while I was awake so that I can rejoice in your goodness. Grant me peace, rest, and renewal as I close my eyes in your presence. Watch over me while I am helpless in the world. If it is your will to speak to me in dreams while my mind is quieted and still, grant that I may be attentive to your Word and guided by your Spirit when I awake to a new day. Let me arise and join my voice with all the faithful in giving you thanks and praise through Jesus Christ, the Light. Amen.