July 7 1st reading
A reading from Second Kings
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favour with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’ So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, ‘Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.’
He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, ‘When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.’ When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.’
But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, ‘Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.’ But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, ‘I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?’ He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, ‘Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, “Wash, and be clean”?’ So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.
Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church
Thanks be to God 2 Kings 5: 1-14
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment;
his favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity,
‘I shall never be moved.’
By your favour, O Lord,
you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
To you, O Lord, I cried,
and to the Lord I made supplication:
‘What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!’
You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you for ever.
A reading from Galatians
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church
Thanks be to God Galatians 6: 7-16
The Holy Gospel according to Luke 10: 1- 11, 16 – 20
The Mission of the Seventy
After this 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. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.”
‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’
The Return of the Seventy
The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
July 7, 2019 All Saints’
May the words of my lips and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight our Lord and Redeemer.
Today’s gospel tells of Jesus’ commission of 72 disciples. It may all sound familiar as earlier in Luke’s chapter he had commissioned 12. The most notable difference is the number of disciples that were sent. The number 70 implies all of humanity. The apostles are to go ahead of Jesus to prepare the way for him. Isn’t that awesome, that people like us are preparing the way for Jesus. In this chapter he goes into more detail. In both cases the missionaries are to travel light, having just come back from travel I can’t imagine, heal the sick and announce the Kingdom of God. He warns them that it will be a difficult time.
There is a sense of urgency – harvest is plentiful. We might wonder what is our harvest or who I was thinking about the children on TV with bars over their pictures. A friend said she would think more about people from Canada. I would imagine as many people as are in this room everyone would have a different urgent harvest. It is the tremendous pain that so many carry. Our purpose is to prepare others to encounter Jesus peacefully through grateful presence and conversation. The apostles must be relational and respectful in order to be invited into other’s homes. We don’t walk this journey alone. We need each other for support, encouragement, a listening ear, perhaps advice at times. We learn from the experience of others who have walked before so many with us and we share our experience with them.
Rev. Robert and I decided to visit together. For Easter we visited everyone who wanted a visit or asked for one. It might be a visit of conversation, communion/anointing. Most people in our harvest were very lonely and some were hurting even by a family member. The 72 have since died but God continues to call new evangelists, teachers and preachers. We must be aware that the message is important not just the messenger. The message is the focus of existence and the gifts that God has given us.
I am aware that some of you make regular visits to others. I am here on Thursdays, other times by appointment if you would like to talk about the visit or if you would like to begin to visit. An important aspect of visitation and conversation is listening. Listening is key to the words but not just the words but what is behind the words. We may also have a couple of workshops about listening, etc.
There is a story that is told about a little boy who asked his mother after she turned out the lights at bedtime to stay with him because he was afraid of the dark. His mother explained that there was no need to be afraid because God was in the room. The little boy answered that he knew God was in the room but it would make him feel much better if there was also someone there with skin on. We of the 72 are the ones with skin on. The harvest is urgent and plentiful. Let us go as we are sent.