6/14/2020 WLP 780 Lord, you give the Great Commission
Today’s Gospel lesson describes Jesus commissioning the twelve for ministry. The text of this hymn applies Jesus’ commands to us and reminds us that we are empowered by the Spirit for ministry. This glorious music we hear on the video (and love to sing when we can) was written in 1941 at the wartime headquarters of the BBC, in a little village, Abbot’s Leigh (hence the tune’s name).
---Donna Wessel Walker
Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7)
The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”
[The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”]
Psalm 116:1, 10-17
1 I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, *
because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.
10 How shall I repay the Lord *
for all the good things he has done for me?
11 I will lift up the cup of salvation *
and call upon the Name of the Lord.
12 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord *
in the presence of all his people.
13 Precious in the sight of the Lord *
is the death of his servants.
14 O Lord, I am your servant; *
I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;
you have freed me from my bonds.
15 I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and call upon the Name of the Lord.
16 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord *
in the presence of all his people,
17 In the courts of the Lord'S house, *
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person-- though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
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 Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go 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.’ Cure 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, and 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 comes.”]
Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.
The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.
From The Lectionary Page: http://lectionarypage.net
Matthew 9:35--10:8 35Jesus 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. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
10:1Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These 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; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.
Sundays and Seasons has a particularly good introduction and description of a primary theme at the heart of the Gospel for today and actually everyday: Compassion. Here is what it has to say about this topic:
Each time the language of compassion appears in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is the one feeling it after he has observed the state of those around him. He feels compassion for people afflicted physically and socially. Each time he is portrayed as making concrete strides to remedy their affliction. In Matthew 14:14, Jesus feels compassion for the sickly crowd. He begins to heal those ill among its membership. In Matthew 20:34, Jesus feels compassion for two blind men and he heals them both. In a slightly different situation in Matthew 15:32, Jesus states aloud to his disciples that he has compassion for the crowd, which has followed him for three days without food. He says, "I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way." In this way, Jesus demonstrates concern about a future probability that endangers his followers.
In today's passage, Jesus' compassion is in response to not just illness or the lack of food, but the situation of vulnerability. He is moved by those who apparently live on the edges of society because of illness, disability, ostracism, and social convention that renders some people "harassed and helpless" (9:36), particularly in Judean Jewish life (10:5-6; cf. Matt 28:18-20).
Compassion in the Gospel of Matthew is not simply feeling sympathy and empathy, but it is acting concretely on the behalf of the afflicted. Because Jesus is the only person explicitly named as showing compassion in the Gospel of Matthew, it has messianic significance. Yet, Jesus' messianic compassion extends beyond him to the work of those who follow him and into the life of the communities they enter.
This text is about sending the disciples out to bring the news that the Kingdom of God is at hand, it has come near. How do we know? Jesus makes it manifest in his actions as well as in his teaching. People are actually seen and heard, something rare in any era. Pause and consider the current events of our own time and place. Who is not to being heard and seen and acknowledged in our midst? What problems are ignored and allowed to fester in our communities? Who will listen and act?
The unseen people are seen by Jesus, they are helped in concrete ways, blindness is cured, hunger alleviated, and the outcasts are brought into the community. And now in this text the disciples are called to go and proclaim the Good News not just in words and warm feelings, but also by performing real acts of compassion just as Jesus did.
In the portions of this story not included in the Gospel reading Jesus warns the disciples that they will face persecution and rejection and perhaps even violence by doing what he calls them to do. Their writ is also limited to the lost sheep of Israel as well. We are not yet at the point in the story where the followers of Jesus are sent out into the whole world, but it is coming. The promised Holy Spirt will guide them to this end even as they struggle to be faithful to the call to Proclaim the message in their own back yard.
Jesus acting out of deep compassion as the Messiah reveals to all of us who God is and what that means to those of us who are harassed and helpless sheep of God’s lost flock. We are heard. Compassion moves God to gather us in and hear our needs. God acts and heals our ills and gives us life with purpose We have been heard and now we hear Jesus call to us “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment”.