Amos 7:10-15 

Psalm 85:8-13 

Ephesians 1:3-14 

Mark 6:7-13 

“Go! And Serve” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

For all Lutheran Seminarians one of the requirements for  Ordination is CPE, Clinical Pastoral Education. CPE is a class  provided typically at hospitals and hospice for those who wish to  be clinical chaplains. It is required that all clinical chaplains go  through multiple of these classes before certification, but as for  Lutheran Pastors, who may not be clinical chaplains, it is required  that we only go through one course. The reasoning is that you  can only learn so much in a classroom, and eventually you will  need hands on experience especially when it comes to death,  psychological issues, and various traumatic situations. What  better way to develop the necessary skills of approaching those  stuck in a hospital or close to death than in CPE is the reasoning  of the Lutheran Church. So alongside three to four years of  education, all Seminarians of the NALC must also conduct one  year of mentored ministry while at school, one year of internship,  and one semester class of CPE. 

Now what exactly is CPE? Basically, it is a course where you  conduct so many hours a week of practical chaplaincy in a clinical  setting as a part-time volunteer, while also attending two classes  per week. During these classes you convey the events that have  happened during the practical, assess each other, and then learn 

psychotherapeutic skills. To tell the truth, whereas I am glad that I  acquired the experience in CPE before I came out here, I am no  fan of CPE and abhor the current practices that are instructed. At  its core, CPE functions on the basis that, “No one has ever died  because of CPE.” The premise is that no one can screw up so  much that this would lead to someone’s death, and that this is  merely a learning opportunity where it is acknowledged that you  will screw up but that is ok; we can conduct damage control and  teach you what you did wrong. It is a trial by fire course. 

I bet some of you can see the issue with such a course. Whereas I understand the premise, if you are going into a lake  you need to eventually get your feet wet. This is not getting your  feet wet, but more similar to a group of frat boys running up to the  newbie unbeknownst, hoisting him, and chucking him sideways  into the lake. On top of that, Lutherans, alongside many other  denominations, believes that whereas you are merely alive and  then you merely die upon death, you are truly dead without Christ  and you because truly alive through faith in Him. So when they  said, “No one has ever died because of CPE,” I begged to differ,  in that I could fail so epically that the faith of the one I served  could be shattered and thus cause them to truly die on account of  me. 

Many in my CPE class couldn’t wrap their minds around my  words, but that was mostly because half of them weren’t even  Christians. In fact one such participant was a “chaplain” for  Planned Parenthood. Oh boy, that was interesting, let me tell you;  I have never met and come to know someone as evil as her. I  came with odd notions such as: the most loving thing you can do 

for a patient is provide the Word and Sacrament; there is a  difference between true and mere death; we are already  condemned but through Christ are saved; without the help of God  all our actions and thoughts are sinful in nature; we are but  instruments; do not confuse empathy with slothfully allowing evil  and a vacuum for hope; I believe in exorcism; one cannot be a  good psychologist and a pastor at the same time, you can only  pick one; etc. 

So I guess you can tell I did not like CPE, and for a myriad of  reasons. But there is a reason why I mentioned CPE. When it  comes to ministry, one of these days a student needs to acquire  experience, and for many this is a trial by fire. It’s not just me and  all my fellow Lutheran pastoral friends who have gone through  this, but also the disciples. 

In today’s Gospel, right before Jesus feeds the five  thousand, He sends his twelve disciples. “Go! And Serve,” he  basically tells them. This was way before Jesus suffered on the  cross, died, rose from the grave, met His disciples again,  ascended into heaven, and then blessed His disciples with  tongues of fire on Pentecost which opened their minds to the  truth. Way before all of this, while his disciples were still students  of Jesus, a Rabbi, teacher, He sends them out two by two. So at  least they were not alone, but had a partner with them, which is  always desirable. This way they always had a companion during  their journeys whom they could confide in and rely on. But Jesus  didn’t just merely send them out. He instructed his students to go  and cast out demons, heal the sick, and proclaim the need for  repentance.

Well that is a heavy thing to ask mere students. Sure Jesus  gave them the authority over unclean spirits, but he did not lift  them out of their disciple-rabbi relationship. The disciples were  still his students. Yet, regardless, He gave them this heavy charge  and they went out and did as he told them to do. They most  definitely had a trial by fire experience. 

Now as He sent them, He instructed them to have no money  or food or bags, just clothes and a staff. Why that? This way the  disciples would be forced to interact and become reliant upon the  hospitality of the people whom they serve. You preach to them  and heal them and hopefully they will provide for you. And if they  don’t listen to you because they have scratchy ears and would  rather only listen to what they want to hear and not what they  need to hear then as you leave treat their house as if it is dirty  than the outside. Even if you are to leave a house and enter into a  pigsty, treat the pigsty as if it was cleaner than the house that will  only listen to what they want to listen and thus did not receive  you. But because the disciples had no food or money they had to  quickly find a new home to serve. 

It should be noted that as they served, they did not proclaim  their own message, nor did they cast out demons and healed in  their own names. They themselves had no authority, rather, the  authority they did have was given to them by Christ who alone, as  God, has the authority to cast out demons and heal and perform  miracles. So when they did cast out demons and healed they  always did so in the name of He who gave them the authority to  do such. It’s kind of like the Constitution in that governing officers 

do not have authority in of themselves and thus are incapable of  their own power under the Constitution to order the people  around, but through the Constitution governing officers have  received authority and are capable of governing in the name of  the Constitution, so long as they what they do is constitutional.  God is the source of the disciple’s authority. These disciples are  but men, they have no authority over unclean spirits, but through  the aid of God, with and in Him, the disciples were capable of  casting out demons and healing the sick and injured. 

Yes it is a scary thing to be sent out, most especially if you  believe yourself ill-prepared. It will always be initially scary for  students as they are thrust into the fire and put to practice what  they have been taught, thus developing much needed  experiences and honing skills. The disciples are no different. For  as a student who is going through such trials is not truly alone, a  good instructor will always be supervising, even secretly, the  disciples were never truly abandoned by their Lord. The mere fact  that they did miracles in the name of the Lord is proof that the  Lord was with them. You’ve heard the saying, “where two or more  are gathered in My Name, there I am also.” Well Jesus sent them  two by two, and they are preaching in His Name, therefore He is  present. So the trial by fire for them is not so bad. 

And the same can be applied to all of you, especially those  who are new to the faith. For all Christians, old and young, new  and seasoned, have received the Great Commission: Preach,  Baptize, and then Teach. And if you do go out and serve the Lord  know this, if you allow Him, it is the Lord that guides your words,  and moves your hands, and heals the sick, and provides faith to 

those who willingly listens to you. Thus know this, even if you are  new to the faith, even if you believe yourself ill-equipped, even if  you are uncomfortable with spreading the Good News, if you do  Spread the Good News and do so in the name of the Lord, then  the Lord is not only with you but also equips you with the Holy  Spirit. 

Let us pray, 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, through your Son you have given us  the Great Commission to go into the world serving you as we  proclaim in your name the Good News. Fill us with your Holy  Spirit, providing us with guidance and assurance so that as we  follow your commands we do not become conflicted or scared but  rather know that you are indeed with us. In your most holy name  we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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