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"From the Pulpit" - July 3rd, 2022

"From the Pulpit" - July 3rd, 2022

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.” Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the LORD Jesus Christ! Happy Independence Day weekend, sisters and brothers! Where are you this weekend? Stuck in an airport with a cancelled flight? At home, sweltering in the heat and humidity? Watching a local July 4th parade in your hometown? At the beach maybe. I'm guessing that most of you aren't doing this - knocking on doors in your own or another neighborhood, hoping to get an entre into the household to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Anyone doing that this weekend? If you've been approached by some who do do this as a part of their religion - making cold calls on homes to introduce the occupants to the gospel, how did you respond? My message tomorrow will be about a project I led at my field ed congregation when I was a seminarian in 2004. It involved this very gospel text, whereby we gathered one Sunday after worship in two's, and went out into the community to literally knock on doors to share the good news. Well, you can imagine the response that most of us got. We had about 50 twosomes that went out to around 10 houses each (in suburban Philadelphia), for a total of 500 households in a single afternoon. The visits proved to be transformative, not so much for the households, but for the people in the congregation who volunteered to take on this project. I'll say more about how we were impacted for better and for worse, and what the transformation was. It still impacts me to this day, nearly 20 years later. So, of course there was no internet, no phone, no way to connect with others other that in person back in the time of Jesus. So you had to see your neighbor in person to communicate with them then. Today, do you think that evangelism can be done via the internet? Do you think it's OK to try to spread the gospel electronically, without ever having to step foot in a strange household? Would you let someone in your own home today if you didn't know them, and they wanted to share the good news of Jesus Christ? Think about how we communicate today, not only with those we love and know, but with strangers. In the anonymity of a screen maybe? Jesus knew that in sending his disciples and others out (70 or so), they'd get many rejections. People who didn't want to hear the good news. People who already had a religious affiliation. People whose families knew yours and didn't like them. And more. It was just as hard then as it is now - it's just under different circumstances. And how does Jesus tell them how to respond? By "shaking the dust off" their shoes and moving on. What do you think that term meant then? Now? What would be a 21st century equivalent of "shaking the dust off our shoes" and moving on after an attempt at hospitality? Posting a nasty note on Twitter maybe? Taking a photo and posting the address of the house with a tweet? Or worse? I hope my message tomorrow will convey the reactions of the group that went out on this Sunday afternoon in the Philly suburbs in 2004, and show how the gospel is spread, even when we don't always see the harvest. Even when we feel we were rejected and unwelcomed. How do you/would you spread the gospel today? How would you tell someone about the love of God in Jesus Christ? To someone close to you? To a stranger? Thanks be to God! Hope to see some of you tomorrow. Happy and safe 4th to you all. PG

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