Friday, July 6, 2018

Reflections - Growing Up and Traveling Light

Read Mark 6: 1-13

The Gospel passage this week begins with us finding Jesus in a very relatable situation.  The people that knew Jesus when he was a boy are having a hard time seeing him as a grown up.

Yup, it even happened to Jesus. 

Jesus, when he was traveling around with the disciples and teaching, went to his hometown of Nazareth and went to the synagogue.  But things didn’t really go that well. The people just couldn’t think of Jesus as anything other than the little boy that once lived there. They didn’t listen to his teachings — so they left.
We've all be there - right? Our parents or people that have known us when we were young still see us that way.  They are not convinced that we can make a good decision or have anything to share that they don't already know.
Jesus and the disciples get frustrated and leave.  It seems like Jesus knows that what he needs to teach about God's love for the world is too important to waste time on people who won't give him a chance.  His time is limited. But I wonder how the story would have played out if he would have stayed longer and given the people of Nazareth a chance to see and get to know the person that he has become? 
Anyway, the second part of this passage tells about how Jesus feels an urgency to get his teachings out there so he decides that the disciples should divide and conquer.  The scripture says that after teaching in some small towns, he thinks of a plan.  He sat down with the disciples and asked them to choose a partner—and he would send them out in his name to travel to teach and to heal people.
And of course, the disciples give him some grief. They were very surprised and, as usual, they asked a lot of questions.
“ Do we know enough”
“Will we have the ability to heal people?” Common questions of anyone being sent to a job that they are not sure they are prepared for. 
Jesus said, “You have heard me teach and you will have the power to heal people.”
They felt a little better, but they were still nervous. 
Now, it's this next part that sends them over the edge.  Jesus says,“Don’t take anything with you but a walking stick. Wear sandals, but don’t put on an extra shirt. No food, no extra clothing, and no money.”
I know  - right?  
Jesus said “When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave that town. But if the town isn’t friendly to you, shake the dust from your feet and leave.”
Now, I am definitely an over-packer when I go on trips. Are you? I usually take way more than I could possibly wear or use - just in case I need something. I like to be prepared.  But here, Jesus is telling them to take just about nothing and rely on the kindness of strangers. My guess is that so all of that stuff doesn't get in the way of building relationships, healing the sick and the hurt, and spreading the message of God's love. 
The passage says they did what Jesus instructed. They stayed in the towns that welcomed them and left the ones that didn’t.  They taught about God’s love and they healed many people.

Maybe Jesus' plan here is to push the disciples out of their comfort zone and challenge them to have faith that they would be fine on their journeys.  Jesus sent them out with nothing so that they could really get to know the people they were going to help and heal.  He wanted to help the disciples create trust with the communities they visit.  Having to rely on their hosts for food, shelter, and creature comforts creates a mutual give and take relationship. 

This is a good lesson for us all. Jesus is teaching us in this passage that it is okay - good even - to rely on each other for things that we need and to be ready to share our gifts, talents, and things that we have. Especially if we have more than we need.  

What can you do to lighten your suitcase this summer?
What do you have that you can share with others?

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