The Mission of the SeventyLuke 10:1-6 (NRSV)
After this the Lord appointed seventy[a] others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.
Aloha, my friends! Now you may or may not know that the word “aloha” means “hello,” “welcome,” “I’m glad that you are here.” And personally, I think Aloha is one of those words that you can’t even say without smiling and feeling good. Well, there may be a reason for that. “Aloha”–though it can mean hello or goodbye–also means “love” and “affection.” But it literally means “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.” And in Hawaii, aloha is a way of living, treating everyone with love and respect. It means living in harmony and sharing the breath of life!
Well, there is a story in scripture about Jesus sending seventy people out to share peace and to announce the kingdom of God. But they couldn’t preach on the corner or knock on doors and hand out fliers–like some churches do today–because being a Christian was dangerous in those days. Most of the people that they encountered would not have been followers of Jesus, and the seventy risked persecution and possible death. But I have to believe that having been given the authority by Jesus to go out and do this work that the seventy went with a little extra bounce in their step. And when they shared peace with those that they met, I imagine that it was more than just a simple passing of the peace, like “Peace be with you,” “And also with you!” I imagine that the seventy were so filled with the spirit that the peace of Christ, was evident in their very being. Their eyes sparkled and their smile was kind and genuine. After all, they truly believed that they were sharing the breath of life.
Have you ever met someone like that, someone that shines from the inside out? Well, it’s usually when someone is talking about and/or doing something they love. Because when anyone does what they truly love, they tend to shine like a diamond!
Now as Jesus sent the seventy out, he told them that it would not be easy. Actually, he told them that he was sending them out “like sheep among wolves.” But I think that’s the important part, my friends; Jesus was telling them and us that sharing love among other lambs is easy, but sharing love among the wolves is a little more difficult. When we gather as a church family, either in person or virtually, we are surrounded by a bunch of “lambs,” other people just like us. And that is where and how we learn about and begin to practice our faith. In those safe places, we become more secure in who we are and what God is calling us to do. But the thing that we often forget is that Jesus is not calling us to stay safe in our sheep pen. No, Jesus is calling us, like he called the seventy, to go out and to share peace, and love, and kindness with the world, and that is a much bigger challenge. Because what if we talk to someone and they don’t agree with us? Or what if we are uncomfortable sharing something so personal like our faith with others? What if people judge us or make fun of us?
Well, as Jesus told the seventy, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.” But I want us to think of one more thing. What if the person that you share that peace or your faith with has been longing for peace or a closer relationship with God in their lives, and your honesty and courage plants a seed or helps them to open a new door?
What if they had been wanting to get connected to a loving community where they could learn more about themselves and experience the presence of God in their lives, and just hearing about your experience, they feel invited and welcomed to try worship online or to come to in-person worship with us in August? What if you had the courage to tell them that you just find it easier to get through tough times because you know that you are not alone and you know that even though you don’t have all the answers and even though you make mistakes that God loves you unconditionally and that God will never let you go? What if, because of that, they feel the breath of life and the love and the light of the divine through you? My friends, Jesus didn’t only call for disciples in his day, but he calls for disciples in every generation.
Okay, so now what do we do? Well, I believe that we are called to start simple because it all starts with love. It is not our job to tell people what to do or point out the error of their ways. All that we are called to do is to love them and to share peace and Aloha with others. So, when we are hated, we love. When we are insulted, we love. When we are slandered, we love. That is what we are called as Christians do. We love the persecuted and the persecutor, and we pray for the courage to humbly share our faith experiences with others because each one of us is the custodian of Christ’s love. We live in it, we build it, and we must share it, not only with our nice little flock of lambs in Oldtown but also with the wolves out in the world, because that’s why we are here.
So, in the week ahead, I wonder: how will you share the love of God with others? Will you greet others with a smile and a joy-filled “aloha” of God’s love, allowing the light of Christ to shine from you?
Will you find the courage to share your faith, planting a seed, and helping someone else open a new door? Or will you continue to listen for God’s call in your life as you live out your faith in all that you say and do? The choice is yours, my friends. Just remember that no matter what you choose to do, always do it out of a sense of love. Aloha my friends!