Text: Matthew 9:35 – 10:8

The other day I was surfing the Internet and I came across the following job posting. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere, but the job posting went as follows:

Seeking individual to engage with community in important revitalization work. This position is very flexible, has no set hours, you can even do it in your spare time.

Responsibilities:

  • Talking with people about the work you are doing
  • Provide fellowship with those you encounter
  • Cheering people up
  • Be supportive to those who need a shoulder to lean on

No previous experience required! Start today!

Oh, one final detail this is an unpaid position. In fact, this isn’t a job in the traditional sense where you do work and then you receive payment for the work you’ve done. Rather, you give of yourself without requesting payment for the work you provide.

What a model, what an opportunity and since all of you are here this morning you must have read the same job description I did.

Good morning fellow laborers. I hope you are ready because God wants to send us out to harvest. God wants to send us out to share about the kingdom of heaven. God wants us to give of ourselves and offer what we have, to ensure that God’s good creation is cared and tended for. That all people know God’s love and be cared for.

This is the job of the disciple of Christ, of one who would follow in his way. Jesus saw the crowd that morning, he noted that they were harassed and helpless. Like sheep without a shepherd, they were lost. That statement sums up much of the world today. People are lost, they need direction in their lives.

Don’t believe me, go to the bookstore and find the self-help section. It’s usually close to the religion section and I would state that there is perhaps only one book that needs to be purchased. Not that these authors don’t have something good to say, or a way to help people. But what are people being pointed to? More of the self-idolization that has created a rather selfish and inward focused society.

Scripture points us towards God. Tells us to love as we were first loved. That’s why we do the work without payment, we’ve already received. We’re just paying it forward. There is a movie by that title where a young boy helps people, strangers in some case. All he asks in return is that they pay it forward and as the movie unfolds we see the remarkable impact that has on people’s lives.

This idea of paying it forward, is what Jesus was telling the disciples. You have already received what you need, go out and pay it forward. In answering the call to discipleship, each of us acknowledges that we have received goodness from God. That we understand our place as a child of God. Doesn’t mean we don’t have questions, doesn’t mean we understand how it all works. But we know that God cares for and loves all creation and has made a promise of eternity for us. All God asks is that we go out and pay it forward.

“Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons,” this is what Jesus asks the disciples to do. Jesus sends them out because he knows that he can’t do it all, he knows that one day he won’t be present.

Jesus sends the disciples out on a powerful ministry, one we would find daunting, one they were clearly unprepared for. But, he does it anyway. He tells them to go proclaim the kingdom, even though they don’t really understand what the kingdom is. Sounds familiar?

To cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons, this is what we are to do as we share the news about God’s kingdom. Karoline Lewis takes those four tasks and describes them as: Healing and Liberation (Working Preacher).

Jesus asked the disciples and by extension us to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons. These are the expectations that have been set and I wonder if we pulled out a yard stick how would we measure up? Now, I’ll tell you that I think we do alright. I’ll also tell you that I’m not here to pat you on the back. How we go about the call of the gospel speaks deeply towards our relationship with God.

These are the principles that guided the disciples, how well do they guide our own lives. What are the values that define us as individuals and as followers of Christ? What are the values that we expect in our family, in our friends? What are the values we expect from corporations and from individuals in government?

If we don’t let the values that Jesus asks us to share shine through in our own lives, how do we expect people to see it and pay it forward themselves? How do we expect to grow the kingdom, if we fail to engage in the work? If we want to effect change, we must be willing to provide healing and liberation to those whom we meet. We need to see things through fresh eyes.

You’ll notice that one of the trees out front was been trimmed. That’s a tree that we all drive past every Sunday. We’re used to seeing it, but a neighbour who doesn’t drive past it every day noticed that it had a giant crack through the trunk. We’d missed it because we were so used to seeing it. Sometimes we need to take a step back to examine the way things are and find ways to do better. We need reminders that participation in bringing about the Kingdom of Heaven must bare the meaning of Emmanuel. Which is God with us.

So, you’ve answered the job description and for those of you thinking, wait a minute no I didn’t. Yes, you did. You did so when you responded ‘We do’ to the following:

Do you, as members of the church of Jesus Christ,
promise to guide and nurture Juniper
by word and deed,
with love and in prayer,
encouraging her to follow the way of Christ
and to be a faithful member of his church?

You promised to pay it forward, because each of you has already received. Thanks be to God. Amen.