Life for a Christian is a journey

The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Let’s join in a word of prayer: Loving God, we ask that your presence and strength be felt in the lives of all who are worshipping here this morning.  May we show your compassion and kindness to the world around us, as You invite us to continue our journey to eternity, as You lead us to keep our destiny in view, and as You call us to invite others to join us in the journey.  May your love be a constant source of guidance and comfort.  Gracious heavenly Father, hear our prayer for the sake of our risen Lord,  Amen. 

Some time ago I attended a ‘Get Real’ conference held in Sydney, where I was confronted with a new definition of mission.  Well, at least a definition I had not considered before.   As Christians we have a common destiny – a common destination.

Eternity with our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Where our names are recorded in the book of life.  And right beside each of our names, I visualise a gold star, with faith written in the heart of it.  A golden star placed there beside our name when we were baptised. 

Life for a Christian is a journey together with others, keeping the destination in view.    In all that we do, we keep heading toward this common destination.   Mission is simply inviting others to join the journey.   Mission is simple, when we have our destination clearly in view, and we have the support of others who are with us on the journey.  Mission becomes impossible drudgery when we feel alone, and our vision becomes confused by all that happens around us in this broken world.

Today’s Gospel is a vivid portrayal of the essential pattern of God’s relationship to people.  First we are loved.  Through God’s love, we are gifted and blessed.  Then we are invited to respond to that love.  To enter into that loving relationship where even more blessings are promised.   And finally, we are called to offer that love to others.  By showing our love for others, we show to them that God loves each of us and want’s to bless our lives.

God entered humanity in Christ Jesus – and he died for us upon the cross so that we might be set right with Him.   Jesus invites us to follow in his path, assisted by his presence – so that we might indeed be made whole – and others with us. And we respond by placing our trust in him.

Gift, blessing, call, response.   It is circular, and it is constant, but notice the order of things.  Freely says Jesus you have received.  Freely give.

Gift, blessing, call, response.

We are loved – first and foremost we are loved

There is nothing that we have to do to earn it.

There are no conditions made before God promises to make us his children.  Before God blesses us with the presence of his Holy Spirit to encourage and uplift our spirits with his word and his sacrament.

Only after we have received his love is there any hint of a demand .  We are invited after the love is shown – to love in return, to love and be loved.  Obedience is our joyful response to God’s gracious gift of his love.

When Jesus journeyed through his life in humanity, ‘he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’ as Matthew records.  No one can say that God does not know what we go through in our journey through this life.  And ‘Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness’.

Jesus blessed many with a gift of healing, of learning, of wholeness.  The only response to such a blessing is to trust in the giver of the gift.  God the Son, Jesus Christ.

Only after blessing those who followed with the gift of wholeness, did  Jesus call a few to action.  His disciples.  “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

We are often called to pray for special things.  We are given a strong intuition to pray, and we are given a desire to take these things to God in prayer.  But we are also prepared to respond to God’s answer in prayer.  Given the will to join in, to participate in the solution, and sometimes to lead.  God gives us this gift by his Holy Spirit.  He blesses us with the ability to respond, and then He calls us to put our response into action.

When Jesus asked the Disciples to pray, He already knew what the response to this prayer would be.  He had been preparing the disciples to respond to God’s answer to the call for workers in the harvest.

He taught them first, He showed them his own example, He gave them the will to respond, and He empowered them with spiritual authority.  Jesus gave them some final instructions, and sent them on  their way.  Fully prepared to respond to God’s call.

Gift, blessing, call, response.  As Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give”.

This call to the Disciples was both a call to action and a prophecy.  A prophecy relating to every Christian, of every time and place.  A call to pray for God to send workers into the harvest.  A call to be ready to be sent as workers into the harvest. 

A call to keep our destination firmly in our mind, to journey together through life, and to invite others to join us in the journey. 

We are called to be disciples.  And disciples have met opposition while responding to the call to mission in every age.  Some with open hostility, some with subtle condemnation, and still others with indifference.  But the good news of Jesus Christ has not been silenced in 2000 years, and will be heard above the commotion around us in our broken world. 

As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans: 

‘we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.’

Gift, blessing, call, response.   As we consider these, may the grace and peace of our Triune God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.   AMEN.