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Sermon July 3 2022

Pentecost 4 C 2022 Celebrating Our Dependence

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20


Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Tomorrow we will celebrate Independence Day, the day on which our forefather’s signed the Declaration of Independence from England 246 years ago; the day which marks the beginning of the United States of America. 

Since that time, the United States of America has never been subject to the control of any other nation or earthly power.  We are independent, and that is certainly worth celebrating.  And each year we do, with things like parades, music, decorations, picnics, B-B-Q’s and of course fireworks. 

And these are all good activities to partake in on the fourth of July.  But before we celebrate our nation’s independence, our Gospel reading today invites us to celebrate our dependence.  The day before we celebrate our independence, our text today invites us to celebrate our dependence on God.   And like the seventy who were sent out in our gospel, this dependency gives us a reason to celebrate. 

As we turn to the text, we find that the Good News today picks up immediately after the passage we heard last week ended, when Jesus invited people to follow Him, while making it perfectly clear that His invitation to follow will not be an easy task to accept. 

As you may recall, last week we were told that when it comes to following Jesus, there are no excuses, and there is no looking back when we accept the invitation to go where we are told to go.  Jesus Himself said “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” 

Today in our text, Jesus sends out His disciples to continue the work that He is doing.  And He sends them out with a mission: a mission that is urgent, risky and one which will require His disciples to be totally dependent on other people and Him.  

Think about it.  The mission was urgent because Jesus said: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  Farmers know when a crop is ready to harvest and when it is, that is the top priority.  So it is with the mission in which Jesus sends the seventy.  The mission is so urgent that He tells them to pack lightly and greet no one on the road.

The mission is risky.  Jesus tells them “See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.”  As they live out the mission, they will encounter danger and opposition.  And they will be vulnerable because they will not be carrying much with them. 

The mission will also require the seventy to be dependent.  Because they are traveling light, and because there have been no arrangements made in advance, and because they will have to depend on the hospitality of strangers.  

And this is scary because we like to be in control and depend upon our abilities to get things done.  We do not like to depend on others to help us.  We are reluctant to depend upon others because they might let us down or hold us back. 

Yet that is exactly what Jesus asked the seventy apostles to do.  He told them to support each other, which is why He sent them out in pairs.  And He instructed them to depend on the people that they come across.  

But there is more to the story.  Jesus further implied that they would also be dependent upon God to help them carry out the mission. 

Jesus sent the seventy out to heal the sick and to announce the Good News of the Kingdom of God.  And the thing about it is, some people will welcome them, and some people will listen to the Good News that they bring, while other people will reject them and reject the Good News that they bring.   

But don’t be discouraged, and don’t be alarmed, because the outcome does not depend upon them.  The willingness to hear the Good News does not depend on the seventy.  And God’s Kingdom will come no matter how the Good News is received as they live out the mission that has been given to them. 

We see this point reenforced after the seventy return from their mission and they joyfully tell Jesus all that had happened while they were out in the mission field.  Good things happen when God is at work in our lives.  

The seventy witnessed the good things God was/is doing in our world.  And this was/is exciting.  But as exciting as it was having the spirits submit to them, Jesus explained to them that they have a greater reason to rejoice because their names are written in heaven. 

The reason to rejoice was not because they were doing amazing things, but that they belong to the One who was doing amazing thigs through them. 

And this is Good News for us who are sent out to proclaim and live out the Good News of God’s Kingdom.  We have Good News to bring, and some will be open to it, and some will reject it.  But the outcome does not depend upon us.  God’s Kingdom will come no matter how the Good News is received. 

The blessing is that we get to be a part of God’s Redeeming Activity in our world.  And that we are dependent upon God’s grace, and God’s mercy, and God’s love.  Salvation is a gift to celebrate.  Therefore, let us rejoice and be glad because of all that God has done for us. 

Tomorrow we will celebrate the fact that the United States of America is independent.  And that is a good thing to celebrate.  But it is even better for us as Christians to celebrate the fact that we are also dependent upon God for our salvation and that our names are written in heaven because of what God has done for us.  

Let us pray:  Lord Jesus, you came to us in our bondage, and led us to freedom by the Cross and resurrection.  May our lives praise you, and our lips proclaim your mighty power to all people, that they may find their hope in you and live to your glory, now and forever.  Amen.