The Journey Continues

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith

Rev. Rita S. Platt

June 22, 2014

“The Journey Continues”

Scripture      Matthew 10:25-39

Have you ever tried to condense many thoughts and feelings into a very short and memorable form? For example, can you remember the last time you tried  to share  a breath-taking vacation on a postcard (I usually write something like “Wish you were here” – not very original and certainly not memorable).   Or what about the last time you wanted to share some encouraging words with someone about to enter into a new season of life. There is so much you could say.

In a sense, that is what Jesus is doing in this text. He is giving instruction to the disciples to prepare them for what it will look like as they live as his followers.  If we look at his teaching in this manner, it does not seem so much a disjointed group of sayings but more like shorthand instructions around a unifying thread:  don’t quit, the journey continues.  And . . .

On the Journey, you are going to encounter opposition. Jesus begins with an age-old warning: they will be called names and as we all know, names do hurt us. Even being misunderstood is painful, to be seen as other than we believe ourselves to be. Jesus has been called Beelzebub- the devil.  Greek word Ba Al Zebul (lord of the highest) sounds like a compliment , but  Baal  was a god of fertility and that accusation came from members of his own community. It must have hurt.

Jesus wants to prepare his followers: it is going to hurt when people don’t understand you, but you can’t quit because the journey continues.   And on the Journey, you will encounter God’s love.

Jesus takes time to tell them how infinitely precious they are to God, reminding them that the divine “eye is on the sparrow.” Those words remind us of a beautiful song. But in Jesus’ time “sparrow” is the name given to several different species of birds — they ate grain and insects and gathered in noisy flocks. Sparrows would often build their untidy nests in the eaves of houses. If you are a Pittsburgher you might think of them like the pigeons in Market Square.

They were sold for a very low price — two of them for a copper coin. A copper coin was a very small Roman coin, worth about 1/16 of a silver denarius, and with inflation it is worth a little less than a quarter in U.S. currency today. Those who were poor and could not afford to sacrifice a sheep or a goat might bring a sparrow to the Temple. So insignificant were these little birds that if you bought four sparrows the seller would throw in one more for free.

Jesus knew that on this journey of faith there  will be times when we feel insignificant-  our life doesn’t really matter- what we do doesn’t matter – and “even the very hairs on your head are numbered.”  It’s really not about “counting hairs” – it’s about “God knows everything about us.”  God loves us.

It is important to hear that: the journey is going to be tough- but no matter what anyone else thinks about us- we are loved by God…

And…

On the Journey, there will be choices to make and we will have to make them. Some of them are really going to be tough.

As individuals we will need to consider: how do we live authentic lives (how do we live what we say we believe)?  How do we mirror God’s love for all persons?

As a church we need to make decisions as our journey continues. That’s what the discussion groups after church are about: asking “What is God calling us to do?” What does it look like at this point in our journey? Wilkinsburg is a different community; 2014 is a different time.  What choices should we make? Where should we place our focus?  I hope you will take the opportunity to join in the conversation.

And our denomination is at the place where she is talking about – how do we live the truth of the words we say at Communion: “our table is open for all” …and everyone doesn’t agree.  There will be choices to be made.

Today, each of us is on the journey.. we are all in different places..but each of us has the same choice to make.  Are we going continue to place one foot in front of the other, daily trying to love God and love our neighbor?   Are we going to do whatever is necessary because we want our journey to continue?