Pentecost 2 Gospel and Sermon; Matthew 9:35 – 10:23

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A reading from the Gospel of Matthew the
9th and 10th chapters then Jesus went
about all the cities and villages
teaching in their synagogues and
proclaiming the good news of the kingdom
and curing every disease and every
sickness when he saw the crowds he had
compassion for them because they were
harassed and helpless like sheep without
a shepherd
then he said to his disciples the
harvest is plentiful but the laborers
are few therefore ask the Lord of the
harvest to send out laborers into his
harvest
then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean
spirits to cast them out and to cure
every disease and every sickness these
are the names of the Twelve Apostles
first Simon also known as Peter and his
brother Andrew James son of Zebedee and
his brother John Philip and Bartholomew
Thomas and Matthew the tax collector
James son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus
simon the canaanite and judas iscariot
the one who betrayed him these twelve
Jesus sent out with the following
instructions though nowhere among the
Gentiles and enter no town of the
Samaritans but go rather to the lost
sheep of the house of Israel as you go
proclaim the good news the kingdom of
heaven has come near you’re the sick
raise the dead cleanse the lepers cast
out demons
you received without payment give
without payment take no gold or silver
or copper in your belts no bag for your
journey or two tunics or sandals or a
staff for laborers deserve their food
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 is worthy let your
peace come upon it but if it is not
worthy let your peace return to you 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
truly I tell you it will be more
tolerable for the land of Sodom and
Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for
that town see I am sending you out like
sheep into the midst of wolves so be
wise as serpents and innocent as doves
beware of them for they will hand you
over to councils and flog you in their
synagogues and you will be dragged
before governors and Kings because of me
as a testimony to them and the Gentiles
when they hand you over do not worry
about how you are to speak or what you
are to say for what you are to say will
be given to you at that time for it is
not you who speak but the Spirit of your
father speaking through you brother will
betray brother to death as a father his
child and children will rise against
parents and have them put to death and
you will be hated by all because of my
name but the one who endures to the end
will be saved when they persecute you in
one town flee to the next for truly I
tell you you will not have gone through
all the towns of Israel before the Son
of Man
the word of the Lord it is so good to be
with you today family and I know that I
am NOT in a sanctuary and that’s
intentional I’ll be very honest this
week has been a challenging one for me
as a person of African descent as a
lesbian right now with the state of our
country riots arising in our streets the
cries for justice after hundreds of
years of oppression finally boiling over
into the communities around us all
happening during Pride Month it’s been
incredibly draining tiring to have to
confront what feels like an endless
struggle and there have been moments
where even as a Christian even as
someone with deep faith I have felt
hopeless it’s been in places like this
where I have retreated finding God in
nature in the peace in the quiet in the
stillness and that’s why I wanted to
bring you here with me because I know
that at the end of the day when my soul
has found that peace that feeding that
it needs in my quiet time with God in my
prayer and my meditation I am called to
go back out into the world called to go
not just to the church but to the
streets to every pride march to every
black lives matter March to every
meeting to every immigration hearing to
every place that God’s people are being
held down it is my job my calling to go
and speak life and love and justice into
that corner of the community that is
yearning for it
so I’m hoping that by the end of this
time together you’ll feel safe and
empowered and challenged enough
to go back into the world with me what I
love about today’s scriptures is that we
get the reading in Romans before we hear
the Gospel of Matthew and it really is
the what and then the how when we go
into the reading in Romans we get to
hear all about the story of hope we get
to hear that we are justified by faith
and that we have peace with God that
doesn’t mean that we have peace with all
other people in this world that doesn’t
mean that everyone will agree with us
and it doesn’t mean that in a community
of Christ everyone’s going to agree and
everything’s going to be great what it
means is that we have a center we have a
stillness in the God that loves us and
that’s bigger than every mistake that we
Christians that we humans can figure out
how to make it says that suffering
produces endurance and that endurance
produces character and that character is
what produces hope and that hope doesn’t
disappoint us because God’s love has
been poured into our hearts through the
Holy Spirit that has been given to us
never once does the Bible promise that
it’s going to be an easy road a short
road or a quick road but what God does
promise us over and over again is that
God has not left us but God is with us
but this reading in particular says God
does a whole lot more than just be with
us God pours hope into our hearts and
our lives and uses these crazy
experiences these things that are
happening to us even now to make our
lives our characters and ourselves
better and stronger
our suffering does indeed produce an
endurance that comes out of survival and
that endurance that surviving day after
day it gives us a character where we can
look at situations and recognize that
there are many sides and there are many
faces and that we have survived this
before we will survive it now and we
will live to empower and support our
children and they will survive it again
and we will keep surviving keep loving
keep teaching keep growing and keep
attempting to get it right until Christ
comes back and says faithful children
thank you for keeping the spirit of Hope
alive we have reason to hope when we see
that we can be better not because of our
own goodness but because as it says in
the Romans passage Christ proves his
love for us in that while we were
sinners Christ was still willing to die
for us it’s easy to say I would die for
my children I would die for my spouse or
my family I would die for a truly good
person but to die for people that are
still breaking hearts and hurting our
siblings who are most marginalized and
vulnerable what a miracle is it that we
have a savior that thought that those
people us were worth saving
if there’s not hope in that recognizing
that even in all our brokenness we can
still be given the best gift in the
world
and that they can be made free to be
given over and over and over again no
matter how many times we get it wrong
and have to restart
is there anything but hope in that
message our hard work our suffering our
taking our time and using intentional
process to become a better church that
is expanding its seat of welcome there’s
hope in that in demonstrations in the
streets in out cries of pain and hurt
and rage there’s hope in that because it
means that people are still trying to
make change people still believe that we
can do better in our quarantine even as
we despair and miss the people that we
love so much we still believe that we
can keep our hospitals at a manageable
level that we can survive this illness
that our communities will rebound
even in our quarantine there is hope as
we cancel pride festivals as we regather
and turn them into black lives matter
marches as we work together to become
reconciling in Christ congregations or
to find new and creative and authentic
and faithful ways to welcome LGBTQ
people into our congregations to welcome
immigrants into our congregations to
welcome people of color into our
congregations to welcome divorce people
into our congregations over and over
again we are finding ways to try and do
better to expand Christ’s welcome and to
live into the call of Christ to be
people of hospitality of love and yes
I’m going to say the word again people
of hope there’s hope in that work
Paul uses the word boasting in this
romans passage and that’s one that we
don’t use a lot as Lutheran’s we tend to
be humble we know that pride goes before
the fall but this is a different kind of
boasting this is boasting in what Christ
can do and the fact that Christ does it
for such broken people who are still
having to try to get it right after 500
years of Lutheran faith after 2,000
years of Christ we’re still making new
changes that’s something to boast about
because somehow Christ is still doing
amazing work in the Church of history
and in the Church of the present as we
grow and as we change paul is boasting
about God’s character and God’s
achievements where the faithfulness to
the crucified Messiah
shows up in degrees of sacrifice even of
suffering not in our status not in our
gifts but in the ways that we are able
to grow that the holy spirit moves
through the places we haven’t got it
right even the places that it’s been
hurtful or harmful and still finds a way
to inspire us to hope and love so that’s
the what that is the Romans what gift
that were given in this reading and then
we go into the but how do we do it how
do we face so overwhelming a task
well it’s mapped out so beautifully in
how Jesus talks to the disciples here
look at the crowds and view them with
compassion see the people who are being
harassed and helpless who are the
vulnerable in our communities who are
the people that have lost their ways not
because they’re wrong but because the
world around them doesn’t see their
place and purpose go to those who are
harassed and helpless and view them with
compassion and then recognize that
there’s lots of work out there there’s
lots of people that need the love of God
and not many that are equipped to
provide that to them so it’s our job to
get equipped we go as a team as a group
and we focus on giving good news life
giving and healing news what is good
news to someone who is harassed and
helpless how do we tell them that they
are loved how do we find concrete and
practical ways to show that to them when
someone is sick they’re offered cures
when someone is dead they are raised
when someone is a leper they are offered
cleansing when someone is possessed by
demons those demons are cast out when
someone is marginalized when someone is
seeking a safe home when someone is
hungry when someone has been told
because of who or how they loved or what
their skin color is that they don’t
belong we rectify that situation using
whatever means we’re empowered to use
it’s not about advancement it’s not
about status it’s about recognizing that
these are God’s people and we also pick
our battles don’t we whatever town or
village you enter find out who is worthy
and stay there let your peace come upon
that house but if there are those who
are not willing to listen to your words
shake off the dust from your feet and
leave that house or town this doesn’t
mean to judge or abandon people that
aren’t ready but it’s a challenge to us
to get ready and to recognize where is
their opportunity where are their ways
to move forward and to know that God’s
got this
but God is in support of this work we’re
called to be wise as serpents and
innocent as doves
we’re smart stewards but we’re also
hopeful and optimistic Christians
believing that change is possible and
yes we will be handed over to counsels
we may have other members even of our
own faith who don’t support us or
believe us
we may be the only one in our region or
area who’s doing the kind of work that
we’re doing and God says that is
absolutely okay and we also may be
scared we may be afraid of messing it up
of causing even more pain of not knowing
the right way to say things or the right
way to do things but we are called in
this passage to courage what you are to
say will be given to you at that time it
is not you who speaks but the Spirit of
your father speaking through you we have
to keep prayed up family we have to
trust that God will give us the right
words and that means being in actual
conversation that means building
relationships that means going outside
of our comfort zone into places that the
people we believe are God’s children are
at we go to their places and their safe
spaces and we offer up words of love
affirmation and support and we will mess
up just like we have for 500 years just
like we have for 2,000 years but God is
with the work of hope and love and so we
keep trying we will not have gone
through all the towns of Israel before
the Son of Man comes we have time family
it’s an exciting thing to be starting a
new journey to be reaching out to those
who may have not heard the good news in
a life-giving and loving way in many
years if ever but it is so important
right now that we choose to be people of
hope it is easy to turn on your
television or to log onto social media
and become overwhelmed with a
discouraged spirit but that’s not who we
are we are people that look out and see
opportunity we see sheep in need of love
we rise to the challenge of equipping
ourselves and we walk alongside Christ
as disciples in this journey we can do
this we’re called to do this and we will
do this amen amen