Matthew 10: 1 -10 We Are the Equipment June 14, 2020

Here is this week’s sermon:

And the words:

We Are the Equipment

Matthew 10: 1 -10


(preached on June 14, 2020)


Summer is a great time for travel, but this summer many of us won’t be traveling.  Because of the corona virus, travel seems a little risky.  But the day will come when we can travel again.  The day will come again for… packing.  When that day comes, and you’re packing for a trip, you might ask yourself, how much I need to bring along?  Sometimes I like to imagine that all I really need to bring is my phone and a credit card.  Everything else I could just buy along the way as I needed it.  Of course that would be an expensive way to travel, and I would miss the fun of packing: yes, packing is fun for me.  I like deciding what to bring and finding a place for everything.


Maybe you also enjoy packing to go on a trip.  But whether packing is fun for you, or more of a chore, you have surely asked yourself, what do I really need to pack for this trip?  Would you bring raingear in case of rain, or reading material in case of boredom?  How about a hair dryer, a travel iron, or an iPad?  Would you never leave home without bug spray and sunscreen?


You can tell a lot about a person’s priorities by the things they pack to travel.  We can see that in our gospel passage for today, from Matthew.  Jesus is sending the disciples out to spread the good news of the gospel: the good news of God’s Kingdom.

If you’re an attentive listener, you may have noticed that Matthew calls Jesus’ followers disciples at first, but then he changes and calls them apostles.  A disciple is someone who learns.  An apostle is “someone who is sent.”  The apostles are sent out into the wider world: charged to heal the sick, drive out demons, and urge people to change their hearts and lives.


Jesus tells them, as Eugene Peterson translates: “Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood.  Tell them the Kingdom is here.  Bring health to the sick.  Raise the dead.  Touch the untouchables.  Kick out the demons.”


These words are guidelines for those who would spread the gospel of Christ.  Jesus urges them to travel light.  In the Message, Eugene Peterson puts Jesus’ words this way: “Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this.  You are the equipment…Keep it simple.”  Don’t bring along a lot of stuff.  Travel light, trust in God, and receive with grace what is given to you.


We don’t know why Jesus sends the apostles out at this time.  They’ve been traveling with him for a while now: witnessing his healings, listening to his preaching.  They watched him calm a storm at sea, and calm the inner storms of a man possessed by demons.  With Jesus, they’ve shared the work of ministry, a ministry that’s growing by leaps and bounds.


These apostles were the first missionaries, the very first in a long line of men and women who have  left home and traveled to proclaim the good news of God’s Kingdom.  Today, hundreds of missionaries are active all over the world.  They build hospitals to heal the sick.  They build schools and dig wells for drinking water.


Some are called to mission here in the United States.  One man heard the call in the 1960s, when a great movement arose, to bring about equal rights for African Americans.  The Rev. James Reeb heard the call from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to clergy in the north to travel to Alabama to demonstrate for voting rights for African Americans.


Reeb was a Unitarian Universalist pastor from Boston.  He traveled to Alabama with two other pastors, Clark Olsen and Orloff Miller.  White people in Alabama were openly hostile to them.  Not long after they arrived, all three men were beaten by a mob of white people.  Reeb did not survive the beating.  Today he is honored for his sacrifice.  His life, and his death helped bring about the passage of the Civil Rights Act.


God used James Reeb and countless others to go out and do God’s work of, as Jesus might say it, driving out the demons of racist hatred.  God is still sending out apostles to drive out those demons, and God can use you and me as well.  We might not think of ourselves as driving out demons – that’s not the way we talk these days.  But God can use us to drive out demons.  We don’t have to travel far, to help drive out demons of racist hatred.  We don’t have to bring much stuff.  We don’t need much equipment; we are the equipment.  All we need to bring along are hearts convinced of God’s justice and God’s love for all humanity.


This past week, I’ve thought a lot about the struggle we’re going through in our country now, as the fight goes on for justice for African Americans.  It seems to me that one reason this work for justice is so hard is that many of us white people are afraid of losing something.  It’s like we’re afraid of losing our place.  We’re afraid we’re going to lose our place if we make sure there’s a place in our schools and our businesses and our neighborhoods for all of us, no matter our race.


But something you and I can offer, my friends, is the vision of a God whose love has a place for all of us.  We can work for racial justice, filled with the conviction that God’s love and God’s justice are for everyone.  We can work for racial justice right at home by reading books to the children in our lives and sending emails to our elected leaders.  We don’t need a lot of stuff.  All we need is a vision, the same vision that shone from Jesus as he sent out the apostles.  It’s the vision of a God whose Kingdom is big enough for all humanity.


Rev. Elva Merry Pawle

Pentecost 2





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