Pentecost 6B: Jesus – Just in Case

Every time I hear this passage from Mark, I think back to my Spiritual Director in Philadelphia…. We had a love/hate relationship (at least on my end)….she taught me a lot but I probably would have heard her better had she not been so direct and confrontational. But when I told her I was moving and I was trying to figure out which moving company to use and what I needed to bring. She responded a bit callously in my opinion, “you don’t need a moving company. Just sell it all, leave it all behind.”

I left angry and mad….and figured I would never see her again….so there.

What I realized…is that her response to me was simply more than I could process in my naieve youth, in my pridefulness….. in my stressed out state of uncertainty

I had spent the three years prior to seminary in joyful accumulation of stuff.

What’s more is….working at Crate and Barrel, accumulation of nice stuff. ….I’ll be the first to admit that some of it I “needed” and some of it I’m sure I didn’t “need.”

But the reality is that how hard I had worked to get where I was, to acquire what I had…..got in the way of me being able to hear what my spiritual director was saying….what Jesus was saying….

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“he ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics….” (Mark 6:8)

Huh? Are you serious?? Give the man some water, he must be dehydrated…he’s going mad….

I’d like to think that if I was a disciple and was there,

I would have listened to every single word of Jesus,

and did just what he asked…..

But given my track record of abandoning my possessions, or rather, not abandoning my possessions, I am fairly certain that if I was one of the twelve….and I was there in Nazareth….and I had just seen Jesus’ rejection, in, of all places, his very own hometown…..and saw the grumbling crowds, gossiping about the “carpenter”….and his failure to convince the crowds…..

the very last thing I would have done….was follow him….

And yet the disciples went off two by two. On their way….to preach repentance, cast out demons, and anoint the sick with oil. They had a clear sense from Jesus “welcome” in Nazareth what they were in for…..and yet they went on their way regardless…..

They responded, by what can only be described as faith.

An unbridled faith in God.

Faith that Jesus was more than a crazy carpenter.

Because

Only faith…..could lead someone to sacrifice the way they sacrificed…
Only faith….could subside their worries about what they would wear or where they would sleep
Only faith….could calm their skepticism

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This week as I frantically filed papers and straightened my office I came to the stark realization that if I didn’t go on vacation or take trips, my office would quickly resemble something shy of hoarders. You see, before vacation I take to cleaning pretty much everything…my home…my office…my car….its nice to come back to everything in order….like coming home to something special or new.

My desk nicely cleaned off….

I quickly set to the next task of packing….

This being my least favorite part of time away….next to the airport.

I’m not an overpacker per say….but by the time I get my 5 days worth of clothing pulled together….my suitcase is well on its way from a light carryon to an overstuffed, checked bag with one of those bright orange “heavy” or “overweight” tags on it.

No matter how much I pare down my bag for the journey….

When I get to my destination it somehow always borders on the absurd when I open it up.

Why on earth did I bring a sweatshirt to Massachusetts in the dead of the summer?
Just in case.

Or end up with 10 pairs of socks for a 3 day trip?
Just in case.

Or endless craft projects “to do on the airplane”, when I always just sleep?
Just in case.

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What we are reminded of in today’s gospel…

is that God is supposed to be our……..“Just in case.”

God becomes all the disciples need, in order for them to be on their way,

And for us today…..challenged to spread the Good News by what we say, and do, and how we live our life…it should be EVEN easier than it was for the disciples

….for our faith has been strengthened and solidified in the faithfulness of God made known to us through Jesus

the king born in a barn…..

the carpenter turned messiah……

the crucified and risen…..

If we are to truly understand our calling as disciples….. HE becomes all we need for our journey ahead…our journey as Easter people….our journey as Christians.

The disciples had faith……and yet when they are called to surrender their lives, they did….and they did so without having the benefit of knowing the resurrected Christ, and yet they went on their way two by two regardless.

Part of the journey of discipleship, is not getting it right or perfect ALL the time…the disciples knew the road wouldn’t be smooth…and the hospitality wouldn’t be overflowing…..but they still responded out of faithfulness.

The Gospel message is not about getting it right all the time…..or being perfect……(though sometimes we may think it is).

In reality the Gospel message is about our faithfulness….

And at the end of the day that is all that is asked of us…

It’s about how we respond to the call…to the challenge…to our commissioning.

It’s about learning about ourselves….

paying attention to when we resist….

when we question….

when we are uncomfortable…

When that spiritual director…told me to sell everything….I got so defensive and so upset….and it triggered something in me that made me feel sick inside….partly because I knew she was right…

I knew what scripture said…

i knew the theology…

I knew what it meant to be a follower of Christ…

but I was so connected to my stuff that I couldn’t help but react….

From that moment…I have never packed for anything without questioning what I am bringing with me….

From the easier questions like….
What baggage are you taking on this vacation that can be left behind???

To the more difficult questions….
On this journey of life….what is making your sack heavier than it needs to be???
How often do you rely on faith, and LET Jesus, be your “just in case”???

Don’t let me fool you by any means….i still get one of those bright orange “heavy” tags every once in awhile… but what I can tell you is that….I think twice with every single thing that goes in my bag….

The good news is that we don’t need to be perfect….just faithful.

And that is what we are invited to remember…..but more importantly LIVE into today…..