This week we have a gospel story that talks about a mission to towns in unfamiliar territory, towns where Jesus himself intended to eventually visit. Jesus sends out seventy disciples to prepare the way for him. These disciples are charged with bringing peace, healing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God. They brought hope and life into new and potentially hostile places.
The noteworthy thing about this action is that the disciples of Jesus took the kingdom of God out to the people, rather than expecting the people to come and them find a discrete building or place that claimed to be the community of the kingdom of God. They were prepared to take risks, even though their resources were meagre and their reception was by no means guaranteed. “See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves”, says Jesus ominously. Yet, eager to serve their Lord, they did as he asked and went forth into the villages.
This act of mission had a twofold effect. The disciples that Jesus sent out brought healing and peace to many people encountered. But they too were changed by their mission. Luke records they came back in great joy, surprised at how well the mission had gone, and buoyed by the idea that the kingdom of God seemed to be spreading through the land. By proclaiming the transforming power of the good news, they in turn found it for themselves. As Suzanne Guthrie says:
Rather than our actions bringing about the Kingdom in the world, the Kingdom of God comes forth in us through our actions and our interaction with those we. Love’s demands transform us and that is worth any sacrifice necessary.
I find myself wondering if the churches of today have this same courage and openness to taking the good news out to the people of their community, and risk being transformed themselves. Are we prepared to go into potentially hostile territory?
Dare we offer peace and healing kindness to those around us? Can we create hope where little exists? Are we still prepared to take the risk of proclaiming the Kingdom of God?
Written by Rev Elizabeth Raine
Elizabeth is minister at Tuggeranong Uniting, beginning her ministry here in December 2018.
Over the years, she has had a number of diverse and interesting placements, such as a school chaplaincy, a tenancy worker with UnitingCare, a congregational minister, a lecturer at UTC, a Presbytery minister, and as an Intentional Interim minister.More from Rev Elizabeth Raine