The Rev. Casey dunsworth

serves as Associate Campus Pastor to the Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry to UC Davis

and as Program Director for LEVN, the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network.

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

So Ben sent me the sermon he is preaching on Sunday to peruse and critique -- of course one of my fave activs. I realized, in doing this, that we didn't go to church last Sunday (because of Grammy's party) and so I don't know what the Gospel was. I checked, and it is such a good one! Read it for yourself, or just scroll and read what I have to say about it. Hahaha.

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace to this house!' 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near to you.' 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 "Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.'

16 "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" 18 He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

I'm so into this. I like that Jesus sends people ahead of Him to make sure that those cities are safe, or to establish friendly relations if the people there aren't familiar enough with Jesus to have an opinion, positive or negative. It's sort of like sending out His Secretary of State (duh, Hilary). But what's interesting is that He doesn't send them with money or any other sort of material gift to persuade people to like Him. He sends them materially empty-handed, but overflowing with spiritual gifts. He sends them out with the peace of the Lord, and promises of the kingdom of heaven. He acknowledges that it could be dangerous -- he warns them to greet no one on the road, and likens them to lambs among wolves. They are reliant simply on the kindness of those in the towns they visit, and leave the rest up to their Lord.

It would be unusual, in our modern times, to travel the world in this fashion. But if we take a step back and make it about approaching all new people and new situations with this attitude, we might be getting somewhere. What if every time we met knew people, we offered peace to them? Passing on the peace of the Lord in church is lovely, but what about outside those walls? I don't mean changing your everyday greeting from "nice to meet you" to "the peace of the Lord be with you always." The occasional Lutheran would respond "and also with you," of course, and that would be awesome! But awkward the rest of the time. But maybe instead of meeting new people with the thought of how knowing them can benefit you, maybe work to benefit them, first. Offer them your spiritual gifts. Can you even imagine if we all did that all the time?

Of course, there will be the occasional instance in which your interlocutor could care less about your spiritual gifts, or even feels threatened by your peaceful presence. I don't know why that would ever be the case, but some people just suck. Jesus warned his people that they would sometimes face persecution. It was then their responsibility to make sure that those in opposition still understood that, though they disagreed, the kingdom of heaven was still within their reach.

My favorite part is that he says that those who accept them accept him, and those who reject them reject him. I want to disagree, of course, because there are people who reject so-called disciples of Christ who do not reject Christ himself. Last night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Marilynne Robinson, the author of "Absence of Mind," was being interviewed. She said something that I really loved. She said, "The gladiators for both sides [religion and science] are inferior representatives of each." She's so right. Anyone who regards their spiritual gifts to be that of warring for Christ clearly does not have His greatest teachings at heart.

What I'm trying to communicate here is that Jesus does not instruct the 70 to force His message on to everyone they come into contact with, regardless of that person's reaction. He reminds them that what will be will be. Some people will be down, others will not.

And that's what I come in to contact with a lot -- people who are not down. And that's whatever. the kingdom of heaven draws near to those to whom that matters. It is my responsibility to bring peace to those to whom peace matters. I can dig that.

I am pure capacity for God; I can be more.

I am just saying.