Reflection for Sunday – July 3, 2022
Readings: Isaiah 66: 10-14c; Galatians 6: 14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
Preacher: Ruth Marchetti
This time of year, my husband and I take most of our meals in the screened gazebo on our back deck. We don’t want to miss an hour of the summer’s beauty. Everything is green, the breeze is soft, the days are long. In the temperate climate of this Finger Lakes region, summer is a gift.
Ten feet away, a pair of sparrows are busy raising their second batch of babies. Their work is endless, back and forth, back and forth carrying morsels to hungry, insistent mouths. Several weeks ago, I watched the first two babies fledge, first one, half tumbling, half flying out of the birdhouse, then the other. For several days I spotted the mother feeding them and then they were on their own as the adults began to get ready for the next batch.
Today’s readings have a joyful tone. First, Isaiah encourages and rejoices with the Israelites who have returned to Jerusalem after their long exile. The psalmist must have written his song of praise in just such a season of abundance and gentle weather to feel the earth itself crying out to God in its joy. St. Paul wishes peace, mercy and grace to his brother and sister Christians even as he suffers in his work of spreading Jesus’ message of love. Finally, like the baby birds who have been nurtured and fed, Jesus sends his disciples out unarmed and unprovisioned to do the very work of healing and preaching that he has been modeling for them. Success is necessary to give them the confidence to go out on their own once they are fully fledged, when Jesus is no longer physically present. They must have started out with great trepidation, but what joy to find that they themselves can heal, and people, hungry for the Word, will receive them and listen.
It seems we’ve spent a lot of time mourning lately—Buffalo, Uvalde, Ukraine, young people dying in our homes and city streets from drug overdoses and gun violence, the devastating heat, fires and floods of climate change. Surely we can be excused for grasping at an opportunity to rejoice in the summer’s beauty and the abundance of nature. In the midst of trauma we all need comfort and sustenance.
When we know we have a God who loves us and wants all that is good for us, it’s hard to understand how a mostly God-believing world has come to depend on systems that function based on fear. Nations armed against nations, people armed against each other. The trouble with fear, though is that it generates more fear. The very weapons we depend on increase the danger we live with. In our own nation, guns have become an idol to be worshipped. Those who would divide us, encourage us to fear each other, to see “the other side” as enemy, not neighbor.
Jesus sent the disciples out “like lambs among wolves,” defenseless against any who would harm them, yet they did what he asked and returned joyfully. They trusted Jesus. We know very well that doing God’s work is not without danger. Many of those same disciples suffered martyrdom while spreading the Good News. The world is not without danger, but the more we rely on fear and weapons, the more dangerous and less joyful it becomes.
The world needs us. There is so much that needs healing. This summer, make time to rest and be renewed. Absorb the beauty and rest in God’s love so that when the time is right you are ready to go out, speak up, and help bring healing to this world.