July 3, 2022: The Harvest is Plentiful, but…

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Video:

Scripture: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

  • “A Patriotic Quotation,” by Robert J. Hughes; Pauline Olsen, organ
  • “O Breath of Life,” words by B .P. Head, music by Carlton Young; Trinity Singers
  • Hymn 698 “God of the Ages,” by Daniel C. Roberts
  • Hymn 2117 “Spirit of God,” by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
  • “Larghetto,” arr. by Todd Kendall; Pauline Olsen, organ
  • Medley: “America,” tunes: “Columbia” and “America the Beautiful,”, arr. by Jerome Wright; Greg Scherer, vocal
  • Reading from Scripture: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20; Andy Pitts
  • Sermon: “The Harvest is Plentiful, but…” Pastor Desi Larson
  • Hymn 696: “America the Beautiful,” by Katherine Lee Bates
  • “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” by James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson, arr. by Michael Ryan; Pauline Olsen, organ
  • Song leader: Cynthia Zenner

Pastor Desi’s notes:

The harvest is plentiful, but

Rev. Desi Larson

Sermon Outline for July 3, 2022

Scripture Focus: Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20 [NIV]: Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two

10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

The harvest is plentiful, but

 Assumptions about missionaries

    • European conquistadors and their Catholic accomplices
      • Protestant Mission Societies – Imposing cultures, languages and mores and even ways of dress (e.g. Hawaii)
      • Catholic mission schools – Pope Alexander VI 1493, Inter Caetera, “Doctrine of Discovery” – papal bull: colonize, convert, enslave https://www.papalencyclicals.net/Alex06/alex06inter.htm
    • US still tops the charts with the number of missionaries – but by percent of Christians in mission: Palestine, Ireland, Malta, Samoa and South Korea
    • Out from Jerusalem *(Dana Robert, Christian Mission)
      • Book of Acts – the story of the birth of the church – Pentecost – spread to Samaritans, the Africa, and beyond.
      • According to Robert, Jesus’ disciples took their message from Jerusalem into new regions in which they were eventually martyred – Mark to Egypt, Thomas to India, Philip to Africa, and Peter to Rome.
      • This growing network of multicultural churches was soon by Paul and others as theological proof that the kingdom of God, the peaceful reign of the one God of Jews and Gentiles alike, was at hand (p.15)
      • 1st – 2nd century, Christian slaves spread their faith to Persia and along the Silk Road
      • 3rd century Xn’s from Britannia to North Africa, Spain to Persia
      • 7th rise of Islam halted Xns eastward and southward expansion – but Christianity pushed north across Russia, Scandinavia, China- north east and Nubia – -short lived colony in 986 in Greenland.
      • 16th Century Angola, Japan, Philippines, Brazil, Central America, Canada had thriving Christian communities
      • 18th Century North America, North Asia, South Pacific and new areas of Africa
      • 20th century with rapid expansion in Asia and Africa
      • Decline – Zoroastrians in 4th century Persia to communist take over of Russia which killed millions of believers in the 20th century
    • Kingdom of God: God’s DREAM for the world – Radically inclusive, curing the sick,. Eating what is set before you – not imposing our culture, or even food laws (twice Jesus says “eat what is set before you”
    • Trinity UMC Missions
      • Tim’s Place, CERT training, Lois’ Legacy, quilt ministry, starter kits for Ukrainian refugees, food bank, summer lunches, etc.

Church has always been missional

But not all missions have been sharing the Kingdom of God – God’s dream for the world, what the Missional Church movement refers to as a Contrast Society – “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

The harvest is plentiful, but . . .

This Owners Manual for Missionaries teaches us that: 

  1. START WITH PRAYER “Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send out laborers into his harvest” (v. 2b). Given the urgency, we expect Jesus to tell the seventy to go quickly to begin the harvest. He will send them in verse 3, but first he commands them to The Lord calls and empowers those who are needed, and it is the Lord’s power that makes success possible. A prayerful church might see official positions go unfilled, but the Lord provides that which is really needed.
  2. MISSION is about TEAM WORK/COMMUNITY “Sent them…two by two” (v. 1b). However, going in pairs also strengthens resolve. A person alone quickly becomes discouraged; partners are more likely to persevere. Kathleen’s example: DOUGLAS FIRS
  3. MISSION IS URGENT “The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few” (v. 2a). In a world where only a few people engage in agriculture, we have forgotten the urgency of harvest-time. Most crops can be harvested neither early nor late without serious The farmer works a year to prepare for the harvest, which must be accomplished when the crop is ready. Failure to do so is likely to be catastrophic Modern equivalents include tax season for the accountant; Christmas season for the merchant; final exams for students and teachers; deployment for soldiers; and deadlines for the journalist. Most of us can survive failure on an ordinary day, but failure in these “harvest seasons” is likely to be disastrous—starvation, bankruptcy, or the end of a career. Today, many Christians have trouble believing that failure to accept Christ can have similarly disastrous consequences.
  4. MISSION WILL BE DANGEROUS “Go your ways. Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves” (v. 3). Jesus only recently foretold his death and resurrection (9:21-22, 44-45) and “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (9:51), where he will suffer and He experienced rejection in a Samaritan village (9: 51-56). He told his disciples that they, too, would bear a cross and lose their lives (9:23-25). Now he warns them that he is sending them as defenseless lambs into the midst of wolves. Martyrdom, from the early church to the present day “Cheap grace, said, expects endless pleasantness, and is unwilling to confront powers and principalities. True grace knows the cross is part of life in Christ.” (D. Bonhoeffer)
  5. MISSION INVOLVES RADICAL TRUST and ABSOLUTE FOCUS. “Carry no purse, nor wallet, nor sandals” (v. 4a). Jesus gave similar instructions at the commissioning of the twelve (Luke 9:3-5), but the only item common to both lists is the bag. The point is the same in both cases. The disciples are to trust in God to provide for their needs, and are not to encumber themselves with possessions. MISSION REQUIRES ABSOLUTE FOCUS. “Greet no one on the way” (v. 4b). Jesus is not calling disciples to be rude, but is rather telling them not to be sidetracked by social niceties. The mission is urgent, and requires their full attention. Disciples are to be as single-minded as an athlete in a crucial game—or a firefighter at a fire—or a paramedic at a crash scene. Distraction can be fatal. The church today needs to hear this. Many Christians today do not feel this sense of urgency—do not believe that eternity hangs in the balance—wince when they hear the word evangelism. We can see what happens when people take seriously the call to prayer and outreach. Mother Teresa’s ministry is a familiar example, but there are countless Christians around the world, including some in your community, who are doing great things for Christ.
  6. Mission is RADICALLY INCLUSIVE. It is not “culture” or “nation” based – “The 70” ALL nations- radically inclusive HEALING.
  • ..The 70 returned with JOY
  • Luke 10:11b Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come ’
  • Healing, hope, unconditional love
  • Starts with prayer ➝ Dangerous
  • Teamwork/Community ➝ Radical trust/absolute focus
  • Urgent ➝ Radically Inclusive

Closing Prayer

Light a Holy Fire

Receive this holy fire.

Make your lives like this fire.

A holy life that is seen.

A life of God that is seen. A life that has no end.

A life that darkness does not overcome.

May this light of God in you grow.

Light a fire that is worthy of your heads.

Light a fire that is worthy of your children.

Light a fire that is worthy of your fathers.

Light a fire that is worthy of your mothers.

Light a fire that is worthy of God.

Now go in peace.

May the Almighty protect you today and all days.

~Masai, Tanzania, from An African Prayer Book, edited by Desmond Tutu

Sources:

Robert, Dana L. (2009) Christian Mission: How Christianity Became a World Religion, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Publication

Roxburgh, Alan J. and Boren, M. Scott (2009) Introducing the Missional Church: What it Is, Why it Matters, How to Become One. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Steffan, Melissa (2013) The Surprising Countries Most Missionaries are Sent From and Go To, Christianity Today. July 25, 2013 (online version: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2013/july/missionaries-countries-sent-received-csgc-gordon-conwell.html

Tutu, Desmond (1995) An African Prayer Book. Doubleday: New York, New York.