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       Sermons | Passionate worship

      This sermon was preached by the Rev. Michael Moore at Swift Presbyterian Church.

      July 3, 2022 | Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

      Independence or Interdependence
      Galatians 6:1–16  Luke 10:1–11,16–20

       T HIS MONDAY is the Fourth of July, Independence Day. In 1776, the Second Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence. The 13 colonies declared that they were no longer subject and subordinate to the king of England.

      It was a moment of serious risk-taking by the signatories. By signing the document, they were effectively saying they were committing treason against the crown. It was at once a solemn declaration by the leadership and a huge celebration as the yoke of oppression was lifted from their shoulders.

      † † †

      SO, WHAT DOES the Fourth of July have to do with the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost and the Gospel reading from Luke, Chapter 10? That is what I would like to explore a bit here.

      In the reading from Luke 10, Jesus appointed 70 others to go out and prepare the way for the Lord. Jesus didn’t send them out one by one; he sent them out in pairs. He said that he was sending them out like lambs into the midst of wolves (10:3). They would need each other for support as well as protection on the road.

      They weren’t sent out independently one by one; they were sent out in a community of two.

      They were charged with bringing the message of God’s peace to the cities that Jesus would be visiting. In a sense, they were his advance team and charged with preparing the way for Jesus.

      † † †

      JESUS’ INSTRUCTIONS to them seem strange at first glance. I’m sending you on a journey but don’t bring your suitcase. You won’t need a purse, your bag, or even an extra pair of sandals. I can hear them saying this to Jesus after receiving those instructions:

      “Wait a minute, don’t bring anything other than what we are wearing, Lord? Seriously? And don’t greet anyone on the road?”

      In my own journey with the military, we always had a bag packed with extra uniforms and enough personal items to last 90 days. The reason for having the bag packed was so that when the order came to “move out,” we wouldn’t be distracted by trying to find all our gear and packing at the last minute. We were supposed to be focused on the mission at hand without any distractions.

      Commentators have said that the reason Jesus told them not to speak to anyone on the road was because that could cause a delay and their mission to prepare the way for Jesus was urgent. If a town didn’t want to hear their message or welcome them, they were told to simply knock the dust of that community off their sandals and leave.

      † † †

      AS I STUDIED and reflected on this story, I came to realize that the Spirit was teaching me something about life and ministry. Our culture is so focused on the history of rugged individualism that to be anything other than strong and independent was a sign of weakness. Instead of that sort of individualism or independent spirit in life, perhaps we should look at life differently. Jesus relied on the seventy to carry his message of peace and the kingdom of God to the people. The pairs that were sent out had to depend on each other and on the hospitality of those villagers who welcomed them into their homes.

      As Christ-followers, shouldn’t we do the same? Relying on each other and caring for (and loving) our neighbors is a sign of tremendous strength. Instead of being so doggone independent, shouldn’t we rely on each other and support/encourage each other in life and ministry?

      So, on this Independence Day weekend, I’m going to focus on the way that I am called to be interdependent as I serve the Lord. I can’t do it alone and the Spirit is really good at opening doors and guiding Denise and my steps as we seek to serve and share the good news of God’s peace, love, justice, and mercy in our daily lives. So, I wish you a Happy Interdependence Day!

      — Michael Moore     


      SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

      This is the Word of God for the people of God:


      Galatians 6:1–16
      Holy Bible, New International Version

      Doing good to all
      6 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

      7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

      Not circumcision but the new creation
      11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!

      12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule — to[b] the Israel of God.

      — This is the Word of the Lord.
      — Thanks be to God.


      Footnotes:
           a.  Galatians 6:14  Or whom
           b.  Galatians 6:16  Or rule and to


      This is the Word of God for the people of God:


      Luke 10:1–11,16–20
      Holy Bible, New International Version

      Jesus sends out the 72
      10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

      5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

      8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’

      16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

      17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

      18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

      — This is the Word of the Lord.
      — Thanks be to God.


      Footnotes:
           a.  Luke 10:1  Some manuscripts seventy; also in verse 17


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