“THE STORY WE LOVE TO TELL”
Text – LUKE 10:01-12
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR – JESUS THE CHRIST.
Smitty Weaver is the shyest of all the workers at the GM plant – until someone mentions those Cleveland Indians. Then Smitty comes to life drawing vivid sketches with his animated and lively speech – he has a story to tell and loves telling it.
Mildred Gunderson is that way about garage sales. She always knows where the best ones are and is ready to tell the story.
The Thorntons are really quiet until they bring out the pictures of their grandchildren and then, they too, have stories to tell – lots of stories.
I guess we each have our own stories to tell - some subject or subjects which interest us more than anything else in life and which become our story to tell – the story we love to tell.
A century ago, a young Anglican churchwoman named Arabella Katherine Hankey wrote “I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His Glory, of Jesus and His Love. I love to tell the story, because I know its true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.” Katherine Hankey had her story – the story she loved to tell.
Is there any other story that can bring the gifts of the forgiveness of sins, the cleansing of the soul, eternal relationship with God? Is there any greater News to share?
Ask anyone – ask yourself – what does God’s Presence in your life mean? What does God’s Gospel Story really mean to us in the daily living of our lives?
All of us would usually answer both of those questions by speaking about the strength and comfort God and The Gospel Story brought to us at some difficult or helpless time in our lives – and certainly there is a lot of truth in that response – and yet, when we are truly sensitive to God’s Presence and Story, we know and feel The Divine Presence in our good and happy times as well.
This morning we see Jesus teaching His students how to share The Gospel. The Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to come.
These seventy others were some of Jesus’ disciples. When we Christians hear the word “disciple”, we immediately think of those twelve men who were constantly with Jesus during His three years of preaching, teaching and doing signs throughout the Holy Land. Actually, there were many people who – though not constantly with Him like the twelve we know – nevertheless spent a lot of time seeing and hearing Him – learning from Him – and then going to carry the good news about Him to their neighbors and friends. Today we meet seventy of them as Jesus sends them to proclaim The Gospel.
First Jesus identifies the need – “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” The harvest was plentiful then with so many hungering for The Good News of Jesus. The seventy were no doubt aware of how valuable it was and of the fact that the laborers working to proclaim and share it were few. Just as the harvest is plentiful now with so many needing The Good News Jesus has given us – and, still today as then, the laborers are few. There are never enough people proclaiming The Gospel – telling the old, old story.
Then Jesus speaks to identify the means for meeting the need - “pray The Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” What is Jesus really asking the seventy – and us – to do about this plentiful harvest with too few laborers? Prayer is our most basic form of communication with God. Prayer is the way we talk with God – the way we verbalize our feelings and desires to God – the way we express our faith and trust in God to Whom we make our petitions – the way we express our commitment to the goals for which we pray to God.
Obviously, it would be foolish to pray for something we really don’t want - or would not truly support – so with our prayers must go our active support.
When we accept The Lord’s call to “pray The Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”, we are joining Jesus in supporting and committing ourselves to that harvest. Notice how Jesus says “pray The Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way.” Pray and go – the two go together like a single thought.
Pray that God will do something about this need and then go offer yourself as one of the divine vehicles through whom God’s harvest is done. That is prayer in its purest form.
Our typical response is “Who? Me, Lord?” We are not real comfortable hearing a Divine “yes, you” – hearing Jesus say “pray” and then “go and do.”
And listen to the job description Jesus gave to those first seventy evangelists – “Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals, and salute no one on the road.” Not a very inviting job description!
The basic human response to Jesus’ commission is “Lord, I’m not prepared. I’m not good at this.”
Jesus responds, “I know. I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Those who are most in need of what I am offering through you are probably most likely to reject it – at least at first.”
“Well, carry no purse with you – leave the cash, the checkbook, and the Visa and MasterCard home. Carry no bag – forget about the basic provisions most travelers carry with them. Carry no sandals – take only the clothes on your back and feet, nothing extra.” Jesus sends the seventy out on an evangelistic assignment which has something of a “mini-wilderness experience” about it. They are to rely on no human or material resources – only on God – to complete the task God has given them. “Salute no one on the road - do not allow yourself to be sidetracked by meaningless passing of time when you are on so urgent a mission as sharing The Word of God.”
As we said, the equipment for this assignment is truly basic – focus on the need everyone has for those things which only The Gospel of Jesus Christ can give – pray to God that His Message will be heard – and agree to proclaim that Word yourself with your faith totally in God to get the job done.
The seventy went and experienced doing what Jesus had sent them to do – they experienced the power of that Faith in God and in the proclaiming of His Word. What wonderful and dramatic things they saw take place in Jesus’ Name! They truly had a story to tell – and God gave them His Presence and Power to tell it.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Later on, Jesus sent the 70 out again – as He sends us - this time totally equipped with all their human or material resources - but still remembering the only essential they needed was Jesus Himself and the story we need to tell.
There is no truer story to tell – no story more capable of satisfying the deepest of human longing in this world – no other story able to carry us into eternity. What a privilege to be given the story by our Savor Who calls us to share it with the world – in our homes, in our churches, in our nation and beyond.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS – THE LORD AND SAVIOR WE BELIEVE IN AND SHARE.
Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
February 10, 2019
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio