God Goes Ahead of You
"Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple -- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward." Matthew 10:42
This weekend the church around the world commemorates two apostles as saints instrumental in the establishment of Christ's church -
We call Peter and Paul apostles, which means sent on a mission, ambassadors of God's kingdom sent out announce the good news of the coming of God's kingdom. We also remember both Peter and Paul as martyrs, which mean witnesses to Christ's resurrection, a witness that led them to sacrifice their own bodies for the sake of Jesus and His Gospel.
Jesus sends us out, too,
as ambassadors and witnesses to good news.
Last week we read a little of Jesus' words as he sent his apprentices out to share a word of God's peace and reconciliation through Jesus. Peter was one of those apprentices. Jesus tells the disciples, "don't be afraid of what's out there, what anyone can do to you, instead trust in God and in God's providence and protection." Jesus reassured us that no matter how difficult, dangerous or hostile the world's reaction to Jesus' message and mission, God knows us and care for us, down to the smallest hair on our bodies. God sends us into the world, but Jesus goes with us and God's Spirit goes before us. Though some will reject, even violently reject God's plan for their lives and this planet, some will accept and receive the good news with joy and hospitality.
Imagine you are Jesus' disciples sent out, dirty, dusty and weary from your travel. You have nothing except your message of peace and each other. You enter a town and some of the people their ridicule and mock you, refusing to allow you even a place to stay and rest. Then one family, by the grace of God, welcomes you into their home and gives you a cup of cool water. How refreshing, what a relief. In that moment your faith is strengthened, your spirit buoyed. That's where we find the answer to God's promise -- the Holy Spirit at work for us already in the world.
Jesus goes with us and before,
preparing a place for us.
When the vision of Jesus knocks Paul from his horse and leaves him blind. Paul knows nothing except that Jesus has called him to serve as ambassador of the one he was persecuting. Yet in the town, God calls a man named Ananias to bravely go to Paul, to open his eyes, to show him all that God was calling him to be and do now. In that instant, God protected Ananias and ministered to Paul, God brought the two former enemies together as brothers and partners in the work of Christ.
I wonder if you can remember a time when friend, neighbor, family member or even a stranger was there with the equivalent to simple cup of cold water for your tired and thirsty soul. In those small, quiet, simple ways God is with us to care for us and sustain us, to restore and refresh our soul.
I was visiting a couple to share the sacrament in their home. She is home on hospice. Her husband cares for her. Each time I visit to share the sacrament, I like to give a little summary of the sermon I'm working on for the week. In my little sermon, Janet coughs. Vince gives her cold water. What more would I have to say. Yes, like that. God cares for us just like that.
In these type of exchanges we find God for us and the love we share with and for each other ... sometimes in ways we will never know of fully comprehend. We're sent out in our lives -- somedays as angels and somedays in need, but God watches over all and gives us just what we need when we need it. You have similar stories, I'm sure. But don't be afraid to name God's presence and work in your life when you tell those stories. It was Christ for you in that moment. Amen.
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