Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Advance Team

Luke 10
We don’t hear many stories about Jesus’ followers other than the 12 disciples and some of the women who were close to Jesus. But here in Luke 10 we read about 70 (or 72 depending on the version) that were SENT OUT as the advance team before  Jesus’ arrival.
Anyone who follows politics knows the importance of the advance team; they learn who are the movers and shakers in the town, they learn everyone’s name (to be whispered later in the politician’s ear), they get all the yard signs put up in store windows and along streets. And most important of all, they set a schedule of visits.
    WHERE to go
    WHOM to see
    WHICH hands to shake
    WHAT babies to kiss
The Advance Team, although rarely (if ever) mentioned in the news story, does most of the work that makes a visit successful both for the politician AND for the people who welcome her or him to town.

Jesus sent a large contingent of people to the towns he planned to visit, 36 advance teams of two. He commissioned them to his ministry and then gave them specific instructions...some of his instructions are not what we’d expect these ‘advance road missionaries’ to do.

1st a warning:
    I’m sending you as lambs among wolves  fore warned is fore-?
Then NON-packing instructions (what NOT-to-pack):
    Don’t take a wallet, backpack, or even sandals
    Tough feet in those days, but what does this tell us?
                    Rely on what they will receive...
And don’t get distracted before your destination:
    Don’t greet people along the way.

Then Where to Stay and What to Say:
    When invited in say, “May peace be on this house” (they will either be with you or against ) so bless them with Christ’s peace
    Remain there and accept what they give you in the way of food & lodging as your payment
    Eat what is offered in any given city (w/o dietary restrictions bending to customs)
    Heal the sick and say, “God’s kingdom has come upon you” a blessing
    If a city doesn’t welcome you, dust yourself off and say the same, “God’s kingdom was here..” and let it go, they will be sorry one day that they missed the blessing of Christ.
And Jesus said,   
“Whoever listens to you listens to me.
    Whoever rejects you rejects me.
        Whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me. ”
Because Jesus is the Advance Team for God.

Do you wonder what Jesus saw in those folks?

I doubt that they were any different than we are - just common people who led normal lives, at least up until the point that Jesus commissions them for ministry.

What did he see in them -that he could trust them with so much?

He saw people who believed in him.
    People who had become excited enough to bring their family members to be touched and healed.
    People who went back out and got other sick and needy friends and brought them in.
    People who began to tell everyone they saw about the healing, the preaching, the inspiration they felt when they were around Jesus.
These were people who heard the story, saw changed lives, and wanted the same for themselves. They listened, watched & acted.

I believe Jesus saw the same thing I see this morning; people whose lives have been touched by his Spirit.
Sometimes we are "disciples," that is, "learners." Sometimes we are "apostles," that is, "sent out ones." Like the Dead Sea -- all inflow with no outflow -- produces death.
Without something flowing in, there can be nothing flowing out.1
So we return here to learn and then are sent.

Imagine that WE are the 70. . .
    Look around you, find your partner, and imagine what would it be like to be SENT...for we are the people whose lives have been touched by his Spirit.

WE are people who have been healed of the pain that immobilized us. WE are people who have brought our friends to hear the story of a God who cares for us like a loving parent.
WE are people who are commissioned, baptized with the Holy Spirit and
We are the people who are forever changed because we KNOW Jesus’ peace and what it means for our lives.

. . .WE are the sent ones, the apostles, the advance team for Jesus.

    It’s up to us to do the work he needs done.
It’s up to us to share news with all the movers and shakers in town, to make sure they hear about Jesus and get on his schedule.
We need to know their names so we can pray for them, offering them up by whispering their names in prayer to Jesus.

For Jesus does come into each town and into each life,
    He comes in the water and spirit of baptism now, and
one day at the end of all time, he will come again to bring
            Peace and Justice to earth.

We are blessed because the Kingdom of God has come near to us in Jesus, and IS here, right now in his Spirit,
    in this HIS church.
. . .
Our friends are waiting for US. .  to prepare the way for them to meet Jesus.  we’ve got work to do.

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