the one about Jesus already being there...
June 19, 2017, 8:00 AM

Sermon from June 18, 2017

Text: Matthew 9:35 - 10:8

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ, will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, as most of y’all know, this past week I was lucky enough to be ‘working away.’ I – along with five of our young members – got to go to camp at Lutheridge in Arden, NC.

I love camp. I really do. I didn’t like it so much when I was a camper, but I was 13 and didn’t really know any better. Though, when I look back on it and remember that time over 20 years ago, I do look back on it with bright memories. As a counselor, I fell in love with Lutheridge. The camp, the people, the schedule, even the food. Though, I discovered this week my stomach is not as iron clad as it was almost 14 years ago when I was last a counselor there.

I love camp. I talk it up. Even with some of the not so great things about camp, I still feel like the positives outweigh it all.

It’s fun. You learn about Jesus. You meet new people. You step out of your comfort zones. You get to be silly. There are people to look up to. You learn, you grow, you love.

I love camp. And I really enjoy taking new people to camp. Youth. Adults. If they had camp for animals there, I’d probably talk that up as well. I want people to go to camp. To live that experience.

But, I talk it up because I’ve been there. I’ve gone through those motions. I’ve struggled there. I’ve had fun there. I’ve been there a lot. I can tell campers and youth. I promise it’ll be OK. I’ve been through it. I’ve been there. I want you to come with me, so we can share in this together.

I thought of that as I read the first verse in our gospel this morning. I don’t think I’ve really noticed that part before. Perhaps, I was just in a better place to receive it this week – exhausted, sore, yet full of spirit – as I prepared this sermon in a much different way and environment than I had before.

But, I noticed that before Jesus sends out his disciples – his friends – to go and do ministry, the gospel writer points out that Jesus has gone and done it too.

He’s gone out to the cities. He’s taught in the synagogues. He’s proclaimed God to the people. Up to this point we’ve read of those times that Jesus has healed, cleansed, and been with those that others would rather steer clear of.

Jesus has gone ahead of his disciples.

Jesus invites his friends to share in this ministry that Jesus is already participating in.

I think that’s pretty important to note here.

Jesus invites and sends his friends out to do the very things that he has already been doing and continues to do.

Jesus is there. Jesus has been there. Jesus will continue to be there.

Whenever anyone asks of something from you – to go and do something important or go to a place you’ve never been; doesn’t it make you feel a little better when that person has done it too?

We find a little solace and comfort when the person sending us out has done that before as well. They can assure you. Warn you of the struggles. Share in the joys.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t get scared. It doesn’t mean that we won’t be anxious. It doesn’t mean that we won’t experience new struggles. But, we know that we are not alone. We haven’t been cast off with no help.

Jesus is there. God is present. The Spirit is guiding.

Periodically, I was able to check in with AC, Katerina, Philip, Madeleine, and Steven. How are things? How do you feel about what’s going on?

They shared, we laughed, we sighed, we even agreed on some of those struggles.

I hope they knew that they were not alone in this new camp experience. I was there. The other pastors were. Counselors. Fellow campers and most of all – God was indeed present each and every moment of that week.

The Spirit moved through them and all those at camp to bring light and life to the world. Sending us down from that mountain to proclaim, share, sing, and play.

As the years move on and Confirmation Camp rolls around each summer. I hope that each of them and all those who come after them will again join in in sharing the life and light of Camp. That place where people are formed and fashioned in and for ministry. Sharing with those that are new coming along about those great moments, sharing in those struggles, but reminding them that they are not alone.

We’ve been there before. God is with you. I’m praying for you. The Spirit is moving through you.

My hope is that we can do that for not just camp ministry, but for all ministry. The new stuff we get to do here at Redeemer to share the gospel with those around us in our community. The partnerships we establish to strengthen our message and voice. The opportunities we’ve already been given and continue to live through as we proclaim, heal, and send out.

We do none of this alone. We do none of this truly on paths not taken. Our Lord has gone before us to prepare the way. Our God is present with us throughout our journey of faith. Our Spirit rushes into us and moves through us to proclaim this word and this life.

Heal. Raise. Cleanse. Cast out.

Jesus has called us into this ministry with his disciples. It might not quite look like what those disciples did many, many years ago – but, the ministry we are called to do is just as important. Just as faithful. Just as forming. Just as powerful. We get to participate in God’s healing hand by being present with those around us. We get to participate in God’s raising grace when we share in our struggles with those who feel lost or broken, when we invite those who feel pushed to the side to join with us because God is indeed for everyone. We participate in cleansing and casting out as we are reminded and are a reminder for others that they are not alone, that God has not abandoned them, that hope still remains, that all of us are worthy of God’s love and receive God’s love.

Jesus has been there. He’s gone before us. He sends us out strengthened in his love and presence. He sends us out with one another. Let us follow too. Amen.

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