Click here for Sunday worship material


Luke 10:1-11; 16-20


“The Mission the Lord Gave Us”

 I want to start with something funny. I read this funny story on an internet site: A Jewish businessman in America decided to send his son to Israel to absorb some of the cultures of the homeland. When the son returned, the father asked him to tell him about his trip. The son said, “Pop, I had a great time in Israel. By the way, I converted to Christianity.” “Oy vey,” said the father, “What have I done?” He decided to go ask his friend Jacob what to do. Jacob said, “Funny you should ask. I, too, sent my son to Israel, and he also came back a Christian. Perhaps we should see the Rabbi and ask him what we should do.” So they went to see the Rabbi. The Rabbi said, “Funny you should ask. I, too, sent my son to Israel. He also came back a Christian. What is happening to our young people? Perhaps we should go talk to God and ask him what to do.” The three prayed, explained what had happened to their sons, and asked God what to do. Suddenly a voice came loud and clear from heaven. The voice said, “Funny you should ask, I too sent my son to Israel…”

A few days ago, you might have seen a hailstorm in our area. I was in my garden and it felt like it would rain soon. I came inside my house, and the hailstorm poured down for about ten minutes. I was afraid that my plants would be crushed and die from the hail. When you saw the hailstorm, what did you think about it? Depending on what you thought of it, it may show what you are passionate about. Yes, my passion this summer is in my garden. In 2020, when I started my garden, I planted plants bought from Walmart, but I’ve lost them all to something. And then I planted seeds again in my garden. They grew slower but were fine enough. Last year, I planted seeds a little bit earlier because I learned from  my 2020 gardening experience. However, I noticed that some of them again have been taken by something. Someone told me that they probably were eaten by gophers, moles, or deer. I didn’t know about gophers or moles. Now this year I learned about them and caught them before I started my garden this year with my neighbor’s help. I felt happy for my garden because I didn’t find piles of soil in my yard. However, one day, I found some of my vegetables were gone and saw deer footprints in my garden, which I had never seen in my garden in the last two years. Wow, I thought, one came after the other, and it’s never stopped. Now, I am thinking about a taller fence for my garden. My struggle with my garden will never stop, whether because of gophers, moles, deer, or weather, as long as I continue gardening. Nevertheless, I won’t stop gardening because I love it so much. My gardening gives me great lessons as well as joyful meditation for my mind and spirit.

In the Gospel, we may find Jesus uses several parable stories of harvest and planting for our faith journey. Since I started gardening, I well understood his parable stories. One example is in today’s scripture. Jesus, sending his seventy people to reach out to the people, uses the parable of harvest, saying, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” And, he asks his people to pray for workers, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Jesus called people to proclaim God’s kingdom. Some of them followed him immediately. But, as we talked about it last Sunday, some of them didn’t follow him for several reasons. Now, Jesus has seventy people to appoint to every town. Jesus called people and sent them out to save as many people as possible. You may know that when the harvest comes, you need to be in a hurry. Otherwise, you will lose your grain.

Go back to my gardening story. When I see my vegetables grow well and it comes time to pick them off, if I delay picking them off because I am busy, I have often experienced losing them. They don’t wait for me. They are taken by gophers, moles, or deer, or they grow too much and rot. You have to harvest them on time. Otherwise, you may lose them. Also, I look at my garden every day, watering it and removing wild weeds. It is like taking care of them everyday. But, if I can’t look after them for a while, they are taken by wild animals, or they die from lack of water, or they can’t grow well because of wild weeds.

It is similar to our faith journey. If we don’t care about our spiritual life, our spirit might have dried out or can’t grow well because its suffering from lots of life issues. It’s like the parable of the sower (Mathew 13:1-9; Mark 4:1-9; Luke 8:4-8). “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.” Therefore, after you plant seeds, you should take care of them to grow well until it is time to harvest. During harvest time, you may call helpers for your harvest in order not to miss the harvest time.

Right before Jesus’ last mission, Jesus called many people and sends them first to many towns where he will visit. He worried about them as if he was sending lambs to wolves. Nevertheless, Jesus sent them two by two. The reason he sent them two by two is so they could help each other. When one may feel down or about to be tempted by evil, the other can encourage them or help them avoid the temptation. The Letter of Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Therefore, the partnership is very important for God’s ministry. The other significant thing is we find what Jesus says to them, “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.” We know that a “purse, bag, and sandals” are necessary for our everyday life, especially for a trip. However, for God’s ministry, Jesus says, “They are not necessary.” Really? Jesus means that when you work for the ministry, you don’t need to worry about your livelihood. In other words, you have to focus on God’s ministry instead of living expenses. It may apply to full-time ministers, but we should also consider it. God sends us to our life-field, home, workplace, town, and community as missionaries. We need a “purse, bag and sandals” in our everyday life, but we should consider the priority. The mission our Lord Jesus gave us to our life-field is to love and take care of one another who are with us. However, even though they don’t know how you love and care for them, don’t try to fight with them, but say to them, “God’s kingdom will come soon.” Listen carefully to what today’s scripture 10:1 says, “After this, the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go.” After twelve disciples, Jesus called many who followed Jesus, sending them like missionaries to every town and every place where Jesus would soon be.

Today, Jesus sends us like his seventy people to our home, town, community, and country as his missionaries. The mission Jesus gave us is for “peace” through us. Wherever you go, first you say, “peace to this house.” God’s peace will remain in that house if they share in peace. But, if they didn’t share in peace, that peace will be yours. Therefore, don’t be concerned about the result of your ministerial work. Above all, we should rejoice our names are written in heaven instead of the result of our work. Therefore, “Be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for us in Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Be in peace with one another. And, remember, the place God sent you is where Jesus is with you already as he intended to come to that place. Thanks be to God. Amen!