Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Sending of the 72.

This was the story Heather read on Saturday at my first communion service, first time celebrating that is (we had the service then rather than on a Sunday so people could visit us from other places)....pity hardly anyone came from York though. A headcount of 20 is a bit demoralising, even if shedloads of people from Visions were on holiday. Next year we really should have July as our month off. Nobody goes away in August unless they have to, it costs too much.


I was scared about being sent out. To be honest I didnt really want to go, but have you ever tried refusing Jesus. The look in his eyes said that “no” wasn’t really an option.

Deep inside really I just wanted to stay at the camp in the hills and watch and learn from Jesus.

Yet it was Jesus who sent us away. Inatead of asking us to go where he was going he asked us to begin doing what he was doing. And the thought of that scared us stiff!

Have you seen the stuff he does??!

A few weeks back we saw him send away the twelve. He told them to travel light. They weren’t even allowed to carry a bag of sandwhiches or a change of clothing.Yet he gave them the power fo heal people, and they came back all right. In fact they came back more than all right. They were thrilled because people had been healed. A few days later, Peter made one of the biggest announcements in history. The one that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

So, anyway, there were seventy two of us sent on this second journey. He put us in pairs, so at least we didn’t have to go alone and I found that I had been teamed up with my favourte cousin Obed. And Jesus told us how big the harvest was, and that there were so few workers to gather it in. He told us to pray that the owner of the harvest would send out workers to gather it in. And he looked poignantly at us, We knew he was trusting us with a big task. Each pair of us was sent to a different town, one he was about to visit. And he didn’t want us getting distracted and dawdling by stopping along the way to look up old friends.

And so we went out on the journey. The walk itself was Ok, although at times I wished that stopping at a fruit stall and buying a pomegrantate or two had been an option, but we had no cash! We were sent to one of the tiniest places, a little hamlet that nestled in the Judean hills. And when we got there we followed Jesus’ instructions precisely. We were to go to a house and stay there. We weren’t sure which one to pick really, so we went right into the middle of the town and chose one of the ones in the square, where an elderly lady was opening the shutters in her window and smiled at us. We gave the greeting Jesus asked us to give, wishing her house peace, Shalom.

And we stayed in her house, eating whatever she gave us. Actually we were amazed at her humble home cooking. He bread was some of the best bread we’d ever tasted. And yet she was crippled with arthritis, that made her wince when she walked. And then I knew what it was we had to do....There was a moment when I had to find the courage to say the words I knew I had to say. “can we pray with you?”
She nodded. And we prayed as Jesus had instucted us, When we mentioned the name of Jesus, something amazing happened. Her knees began to shake and suddenly she straightened up and laughed like a teenager. “I’ve been healed! The pain has gone. Thank you! Thank God! Thank Jesus” There were tears in all our eyes. And yet that was not the only healing in that town. We saw lepers cleansed (although we prayed for them from a bit of a distance. I’m not that brave yet!” )
We saw a boy who walked with a crutch ever since he had polio throw away his crutch and dance,and we went to visit a bedridden old man, who threw back his covers and ran off up the street, just to prove he could! So when we went back, we were thrilled. We met up with the othes and they told us such amazing stories.

And yet not everyone listened to what we had to say. The second village Jesus sent us to was not so nice. They spat on us and called us prophet-botherers and, well I can’t quite quote the last sentence they said to us, because its unrepeatable and one of the words began with an F. And then they starte thowing rotton meat in our direction. It brought tears to my eyes and not just cos of the stench, but cos of the hurt of rejection. We felt so low. And yet as I looked down at my dusty feet, I realised that I could not let the rejection get to me, so I said to Obed, “lets do what he said” and we took our sandals off and shook the dust out of them, and somehow that made things feel better. It was almost like the pain of rejection shook off too and we were able to step out onto the road once more, in search of another place and anohter group of hungry people.

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