St. Augustine of Hippo


Episcopal Church

 


“Mutual Ministry with Christ and One Another


July 7, 2019


The Reverend Nathanael Saint-Pierre


Do you want our church to grow? Do you think that outreach can be done by just one person?

Jesus commissioned seventy (according to different editions seventy-two) disciples to go ahead of him and announce that the kingdom of God is near.

What can we learn from the model Christ instituted? How are we to conduct our ministries and missions as authentic followers of Christ?

The Gospel of Luke for Sunday gives us a snapshot of how Jesus’ immediate circle was organized. When we think of Jesus’ surroundings, we often think of twelve apostles. The text for today pictures a larger group of seventy (two) disciples trained by Jesus. They were sent ahead of him and by pairs to the towns and villages where Jesus himself intended to go. Their mission was to go and cure the sick, to proclaim that the kingdom of God has come near (meaning that Jesus was on his way, not far behind them).

Why by pairs? Because to follow Jesus is not an individual achievement. We are in this together. No one can spread the gospel alone because there will be difficulties that one cannot face alone. We need to be partners (teammates) in mutual ministry, supporting one another, assisting one another, accepting rejection together, knowing when it’s time to move on and start fresh somewhere else (it takes a trusted partner to help us realize it is time to move on). Ministry is not a competition in which we try to accomplish more than our predecessor or fare better than our successor. The field does not belong to us; it won’t be our legacy. We are all followers of Christ with different gifts so different responsibilities. The harvest is plentiful.  This is as true today as it was in Jesus’ time and there are few laborers. Jesus’ advice is to just take with us what is necessary (go light) and essential. Do not let material possessions, fleshly stuff, get in the way or conflict with the ministry of the Gospel. Church attendance is low, not only here, but everywhere. When we find like-minded people (animated by the same spirit), work with them.

Jesus taught that outreach is a team effort. We are sent as lambs in the midst of wolves. Lambs that have accepted their calling. But in the midst of wolves that have the mission to devour whatever the lambs are trying to achieve. If we want to survive in this jungle, we need to stick together. We must not be distracted by the destructors and detractors. We must come to the realization that there are times during our missions, we must shake off the dust from unwelcoming places. 

Above all, we should not rejoice what the Holy Spirit is doing through us as if it were being done by our own power. There is no personal glory or individual legacy when in mission for Christ. The success that we may achieve does not belong to us. Instead, God deserves the glory; for, only by the sacrifice of Jesus are our names written in heaven.  

Christ has no body on earth but ours; no hands but ours; no feet but ours. 
Ours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out to the world. 

Ours are the expressions through which the world experiences Christ’s compassion.
Ours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. 
Ours are the hands with which he is to bless others now.

Let me breath on you and tell you to Go! Amen.