These texts that we have today were a challenge for me. We have different texts that give themselves to or have themes that have been hijacked for purposes other than what I would call the gospel, or the good news.
I was wrestling with that this week.
How do I preach this, especially on the coat tails of a Sunday where I loved the gospel?
Then, I got to thinking about Father’s Day, who a father is, and our image of God as the perfect Father (the model of what fatherhood should ideally be).
I became a little more comfortable with the texts at that point.
In our gospel text (Matt. 9-10), we have Christ sending his disciples out to do those things we have been talking about:
the proclamation of the WORD in word and deed;
we don’t have the baptizing yet, but that will come;
the acts of compassion and mercy; and
the love and the service (of others).
They have been sent out into the world to do that, but not quite fully yet.
This shows one of the dynamics that runs through out the gospel of Matthew.
The gospel of Matthew is commonly seen as a very “Jewish” gospel. The reason for that is people see in texts like today where Jesus is the Jewish Messiah sent to the Jewish people in order to save the Jewish people.
Yet there are great passages further on in Matthew that are open and wide about how God is at work in our world, such as the Great Commission that we had last week. It read “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.
In Matthew’s text, we see perhaps what is Christ giving the disciples baby steps or letting them test the waters before they get that final, great big commission. He knows that the world is not always going to be receptive, and open, and welcoming to them and the message they have to share.
We hear where Christ says go into the towns, go into a house and put your peace out there. If the people are receptive to it, if they are peaceful, and if they receive you in peace that peace will stay there. If they are not receptive and they want nothing to do with your peace, it is just going to come back to you and that is okay too.
Go forth! Stay in these towns!
If you get rejected, literally shake the dust off of you and move along. Just move along!
I think about what the role of a father is and should be as one who teaches us how to do those things, teaches us how to speak, and how to be in the world. Then, sends us out into it, but also wanting to safe-guard and protect us for what that might mean.
As I was thinking about this image, a song came to mind. Yes, we are returning to an old favorite of mine, Garth Brooks. It is actually on one of his newer CDs, so you might not know it but it is “Send ’em on Down the Road”. The whole song is about parenthood and the chorus says:
you can cry for ’em
live and die for ’em
you can help ’em find their wings
but you can’t fly for ’em
’cause if they are not free to fall
then they are not free at all
and though you just can’t bear the thought of letting go
you pick ’em up
you dust ’em off
you send ’em on down the road
This is what we do with those we love and care for.
We want to give them opportunities and freedom.
We want to give them their wings to fly and explore, to be who they are and who they are called to be in this crazy world.
But, the other part of us wants to keep them grounded and rooted because we are fearful of what might happen. What if they fall? What if they are rejected?
Our job is to help them have those wings, but also to pick them up when they fall, to dust them off, and to help them get back on the horse (some would say) or back on the road/their journey.
I understand this passage (Matt. 9-10) as a test run for the Great Commission (Matt. 28).
We all are on that same journey.
We all have roots, but we all also have wings.
We are called to go out into the world proclaiming the good news; acting with justice and compassion; loving and serving.
Some will receive it and that is great.
When those who reject us, who are not open to what we are doing, may we have the courage and the resolve to pick ourselves up, shake off the dust, and just go on to the next place. Amen.
The Scriptures used were Matthew 9:35 – 10:8 with Matthew 28:16-20 referenced.
The Sermon was preached on 18 June 2017 at Gloria Dei Lutheran (Kelso, WA).