July 2016 Pastor's Pen

The Pastor’s Pen July 2016

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. Luke 10:1

The life of a farmer has always been life on the edge. Like most business people, farmers borrow money for equipment, seed, gasoline, fertilizer. Then they plow and plant and fertilize and cultivate. Then they wait. Finally, at the end of the summer, harvest nears. By that time, farmers have spent most of a year and a good deal of other people's money in the hope that they will have a good harvest. They have worried through a too-wet springtime and sweated through a too-dry summer. They have battled bugs and blight. They have felt good as they watched plants emerge from the ground, strong and healthy, and they have felt helpless knowing the uncertainty of the coming months. At any time, a bad windstorm or hail or blight or any number of things can ruin the crop. A bad crop or two, and a farmer might very well find an auctioneer on his doorstep, selling off his dreams for a nickel on the dollar.

It takes good nerves to be a farmer. A crop isn't worth anything until it is ready — so he must wait. But he can't wait too long. A crop that is ready this week will rot next week. When a crop is ready, the farmer had better be ready too. That isn't the time to overhaul the tractor. It isn't the time to start looking for help. It's the time to bring in the harvest. Jesus said, "The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few." He is telling us that we are dealing with an urgent crisis.

We don't have many farmers in our congregation today, but we have people who understand urgency. If you own a retail shop, how would you like to miss the Christmas season! How would you like to have to close your doors in December because you had no help? If you are an accountant, how would you like to have your employees go on strike at the beginning of the tax season! Jesus said, "The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few." That, folks, constitutes a crisis. It's a problem that requires a solution.

Jesus sent seventy disciples to get the job done. He told those first disciples not to waste time. Travel light! Don't engage in small talk along the way! Don't jockey for fine accommodations! Eat what they put in front of you! Do something to help people as a way of establishing your credibility! Heal the sick! Feed the hungry! Then proclaim, "The kingdom of God has come near."

That's still the church's job today — the proclamation of the kingdom of God. We are always tempted to forget that. We are tempted to believe that our job is to keep the doors open. Or to preserve a historic tradition. Or to be friendly. Many congregations more closely resemble a twenty-first-century civic club than a first-century church. We gather together to do good works and sometimes all we accomplish is keeping the building from falling down around our ears.

It is a fine thing to maintain a building for the sake of Christ — but that is not the heart and soul of our mission. Jesus told these seventy disciples, "Heal the sick!" (v. 9). Then say, "The kingdom of God has come near to you."

Our mission is to proclaim the kingdom of God. To do that, we must first become loyal subjects of the king — we must let Jesus be Lord over our lives. Then we must nurture our children in the ways of the kingdom. We must support the preaching of the kingdom from the pulpit. We must personally proclaim the kingdom of God to family, friends and neighbors — proclaim it to all who will listen and even those who won't. This is not just the responsibility of clergy, but is the responsibility of every Christian.

When Jesus told the disciples to travel light and not to greet people along the way, he was really telling them to approach their task with great urgency. Don't worry about your personal comfort! Don't waste time in conversation! Get out there and proclaim this message: "The kingdom of God has come near…." Jesus clearly believed that this was an urgent message. He clearly believed that he was sending these disciples on a lifeand-death mission. He clearly believed that people's lives hung in the balance.

The question for us today is whether we still believe these things. Do we really believe that ours is an urgent message? Many Christians have lost that sense of urgency. We live in a world that stresses tolerance. Whatever you believe is fine. We find this business of proclamation mildly embarrassing. We are far more comfortable with a ministry where we open the doors and see who comes rather than a ministry where we go to the people.

Do we really believe that we are embarked on a lifeand-death ministry? Do we really believe that lives hang in the balance? Jesus tells us to go and to proclaim, "The kingdom of God has come near..." I’ll look for you on the “farm” .

See you in worship. Pastor Ken

Volume 47, Issue 7 www.sjpc-camas.org Page 3