One of three messages shared at Unity Sunday, June 1 at Arlington Church of the Brethren. One from each of the three pastors of the three congregations who worship in that building. Three languages, three styles, three theologies and we are all ONE! Somos Uno en Christo.
Matthew 28:16-20 - Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. Jesus came near and spoke to them, “ I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
In this scripture, Jesus is giving his followers some last words of wisdom, encouragement, and a task for the days ahead without him. Jesus is going UP, and His followers have certainly had their ups and downs in the last 33 days from this part of Jesus' story, haven't they?
What all has happened to them? You know the story.
Arrest and Crucifixion
Fear and running away
then Surprise, resurrection, (in spite of Jesus' many predictions, they were all surprised!)
Appearances - different ones reported in each gospel.
(In Matthew, we don't have stories past the resurrection. Only that Jesus told the women to whom he appeared to tell the men that he would meet them in Galilee.)
What a lot of ups and downs.
But that is life isn't it? Our lives are full of ups and downs.
I visited a friend last week who I've known for 40 years. She recently completed 2-year training and received an international certification in her industry. It was quite a high, an UP we would say. .
. . .
4 days later she got laid off. A real down!
Do you know the feeling? - have you had this kind of roller coaster ride?
It has left her wondering what to do next. Retire early? Find a new job, begin again?
I'll guess that the disciples felt some of these feelings. We know from other gospel accounts that some returned to their fishing after the crucifixion, if only to get away out on the water for a bit and do something.. And some found Jesus alongside the Sea.
But now he has left for good, ascended and promised them the Holy Spirit
And he gave them a mission for the rest of their lives.
It's hard to compare their lives to our lives yet this mission is one we are given too. This simple message is to be OUR mission for life.
How to you react to such a call on our lives?
I guess the disciples could have said, "Not yet Jesus, it's too soon. I've got to process all this. or after all this emotional toll, I need a vacation to de-stress" or "I've neglected my business for too long, I need to get back to make a living." WHAT ELSE MIGHT THEY HAVE SAID?
Maybe they did for all we know, but the story of the church says they came around, many managed to continue to fish and take care of their families as they built house churches that grew into Christ's church in their localities and beyond. Thanks to them and this mission, we are here today.
And now it's our mission. What comes next is up to us.
How can we use any excuse to delay working on this mission?
We need to hear these words today, as if Jesus appeared to us in this place because he does. This IS where we find it easiest to experience his presence.
Go, he says, don't stay in here, THIS is not your focus, out there is. GO
MAKE disciples - OTHERS are our focus; we help, give assistance, and as we serve others, we share the good news
Go and make disciples OF ALL NATIONS - not just our own families, but friends, strangers, those we serve, those we love, those who need to hear good news in the midst of their own ups and downs of life.
Go and make disciples of all nations BAPTIZING - it's not enough just to befriend people, we must invite them to join in the circle of Christ's community. This place, this church, isn't ours to keep, it's ours to give away. We do that by inviting others to join, be baptized, make a commitment to Christ, not just drop into a church service from time to time, but truly make this the center and purpose of your life.
Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the NAME OF THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT. - Join the Mission that reaches beyond Christ's life on earth to all human history and God's saving action among God's children. Help them see we are all in this together, just as God's children have been from the days God saved the Jewish slaves in Egypt until Jesus expanded the mission beyond the Jewish disciples to all nations. We are one in spirit and we are to be one in the body.
Teach them to obey - help them make a commitment and teach each other the way, the JESUS WAY to live.
And look, 'I am with you always, to the close of the age.' He says.
Know that when you walk the Jesus way -with the Holy One, Jesus himself, -you never walk alone. We never do this great mission alone.
So can you tell that back to me? what is it we are to do?
... "GO, Make Disciples, Baptize, Teach,
(and who is with us on this mission?)
(for how long?)