Posted by on Jun 5, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on What will we do as disciples?

Sunday, June 7, has been designated as Trinity Sunday…and another term is listed, being “Peace with Justice Sunday”. I think it is rather ironic that the “Peace with Justice” label is prominent this Sunday in the light of what we have been living through these past 9-10 days.

One of the suggestions in an article written regarding suggestions for themes, etc., that I normally consider when beginning my studying and preparations, was that we not try to explain the Trinity this Sunday. In my estimation, one of the most important verses to understand the Trinity is in Genesis 1:26, when God is considering who will care for the animals and earth that was created. This verse says, “Then God said, “Let US make humankind in OUR image, according to OUR likeness…”(Gen 1:26). It was the use of the words “us and our” indicated to me that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were one. All were part of the creation of the world.

So…to move to our consideration of the gospel for today from Matthew 26:16-20. When we were considering the gift of the Holy Spirit last week during our celebration of Pentecost, we can read further in the book of Acts and find out that the disciples stayed in Jerusalem for awhile, After the crowd confessed their sin of crucifying Jesus, the disciples talked with and taught the crowds. Those in the crowd believed and wanted to be baptized. And there were 3000 people who were added to the disciples and spent time studying and praying and sharing in breaking of bread and prayers.

In considering our gospel reading from Matthew today, we find that the disciples had been directed to go to Galilee to a mountain. Jesus appeared to them. Some of the disciples believed and some were skeptical. How did Jesus react to those who were skeptical that this really WAS Jesus? He didn’t degrade them in any way.

Remember that the disciples HAD followed the words of the women who saw Jesus at the empty tomb. The disciples had seen Jesus when they were together in the room…for safety and for coming together to prepare for what Jesus was promising them. Also, Jesus was always telling them they would go to “nations”…and for these people, that meant Gentiles. The Jews did not want to consider ministering to Gentiles…they were not the same as the Jews were. (Could we classify this as discrimination on both “sides”…as the Gentiles did not like the Jews?) Yes..even though Jesus had the disciples ministering to the Israelites…they are now being commissioned to go to ALL nations.

What changed their minds? Probably when Jesus said to them He had been given “all authority” in heaven and on earth. He was raised to heaven by God. He commissioned them to go to all nations, teaching and baptizing the converts in the name of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. There it is….the Trinity! Remember that they had been given the power by the Holy Sprit on Pentecost.

These people were to make disciples to be followers and to do what Jesus taught to further God’s word to all the people. They were to teach and baptize…and implicit in this command was to forgive and teach people to forgive each other and obey what Jesus had commanded.

I can just imagine how the disciples were feeling at this point. Yes…they were pleased that Jesus was commissioning them, but “now what”? After working with the people in the temple in Jerusalem, they had the sense that this wouldn’t be an “easy” job to accomplish.

I also know that Jesus knew this would be their reaction. So, his last words to them were, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” WOW!!! What assurance they had to go out and be workers for Jesus…disciples. Just when they had seen Jesus ascend into heaven, He was assuring them he would never leave them alone.

I think that this is our assurance today, also. When I was beginning to try to decide what I would speak on today, this assurance came to me over and over. There were so MANY ways that this message could go. I could go into a dialogue about what we have been experiencing with our separation of the past 10 weeks. I could go into a dialogue about the horrible happenings of the last 10 days. Yes, my heart is heavy about the actions we are all witnessing. People are not ready to really take ownership for their actions. People are probably very upset by the quarantine of the past many weeks and want to be with people.

As I was praying about this sermon, God kept saying to me, “I am with you always. I will not abandon you.” Why am I so hurt by the looting and hurting of God’s people? I was raised in a different way. My parents accepted people of all races and nationalities in our house.

When I was a little girl, my parents told me that a crop dusting plane flying over my dad’s fields lost power due to a mechanical problem. No….it didn’t crash. The pilot was able to land it. Anyway, it had to be returned to Alabama for repair. This meant that someone had to drive to Iowa from Alabama to pick up the plane and take it back. The person who drove the semi all night from Alabama arrived in central Iowa and went to the town restaurant to try to get something to eat. He was told he couldn’t eat there as he was a black man. So, the man turned around and came out to my parent’s farm. Mom and Dad found out what had happened in town and fed the man and suggested he rest for awhile. Dad took a picture of the man (that is part of our house) showing his total exhaustion as he had to drive all the way back hauling the airplane.

My parents also welcomed many people from Egypt who were attending Iowa State University to obtain their PhD’s in agriculture to enable them to go back to Egypt and teach in the university in Cairo. They were guests in our house so often, I cannot remember how many times. One time, mom and dad asked them to fix a “typical Egyptian meal” for us. Yes…it was fixed in my mother’s kitchen. These students had brought their families with them and one of them married a resident of the US and she went back to Egypt with him. They were family…not strangers.

What can we do to make a change in the way our world treats God’s people? Remember, God made us all! I truly believe this isn’t only related to people of other nationalities or skin color, but it is part of accepting all people. Not discriminating, being inclusive. When we talk with people, do we really listen to them? Do we often judge them for their opinions on subjects? Do we tear other people down so that we feel “better” than they do?

Is God speaking specifically to each one of us now, asking us to be part of the healing that needs to happen? We can counter his commissioning of us, with “What can I do?” God will tell us what we can do….as no attempt at helping things heal is too little. He says, “Do not be afraid. I am always with you. I will not abandon you.”

Is it possible that when we focus on what God is wanting us to do, we understand ourselves better? What we do, we do in the name of God. We do these things because we belong to Jesus who died to give us forgiveness of our sins and the grace we all need. We do these things because we are given the words by the Holy Spirit. Focus on what God wants us to do.

Remember…God is ALWAYS with us!

Dear Lord…thank you for the challenges you give to us. Thank you for the assurance that you are always with us and will guide and direct us. Thank you for forgiving our shortcomings and continuing to hep us work for you. We are your disciples.

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