Luke 10:1-12, 17-20(CEB)
Seventy-two sent out
After these things, the Lord commissioned seventy-two others and sent them on ahead in pairs to every city and place he was about to go. He said to them, “The harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest. Go! Be warned, though, that I’m sending you out as lambs among wolves. Carry no wallet, no bag, and no sandals. Don’t even greet anyone along the way. Whenever you enter a house, first say, ‘May peace be on this house.’ If anyone there shares God’s peace, then your peace will rest on that person. If not, your blessing will return to you. Remain in this house, eating and drinking whatever they set before you, for workers deserve their pay. Don’t move from house to house. Whenever you enter a city and its people welcome you, eat what they set before you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘God’s kingdom has come upon you.’ Whenever you enter a city and the people don’t welcome you, go out into the streets and say, ‘As a complaint against you, we brush off the dust of your city that has collected on our feet. But know this: God’s kingdom has come to you.’ I assure you that Sodom will be better off on Judgment Day than that city.
The seventy-two returned joyously, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit themselves to us in your name.”
Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Look, I have given you authority to crush snakes and scorpions underfoot. I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy. Nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, don’t rejoice because the spirits submit to you. Rejoice instead that your names are written in heaven.”
It’s not something I imagine Jesus doing much – but this is a picture of him organising a fairly sizeable Mission – sending 72 workers out into the Mission field and then gathering them back for a feedback session!
You can almost hear the pride in Jesus voice – I always imagine him sounding like a proud loving father congratulating his toddler – I saw Satan himself fall from the sky! – well done son, you sure did run faster than a rocket! But it’s not mocking, it’s not sarcasm, it’s proud and humourous back-slapping – joining in the high-spirits of the returning missioners who all have tales to tell.
It struck me today for the first time that this is exactly what Church should be – a sending out and a gathering together. Like the rhythm of the tides we are sent out into the world to travel light and proclaim that God’s Kingdom is near – then week-by-week we gather back together in the company of Jesus with tales of the road to share – and Jesus is so delighted to hear them…. then we are sent back out.
Maybe we should read verses 1-10 at the end of every church gathering – and read verses 17-20 at the beginning of every church gathering?
If only we could find a way of being church that looks and feels like that.