The Holy Gospel According to St. Luke, the 24th Chapter
Then Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
We’ve all worked with our hands at some point or another. In our work life, home life and church life. Quilting, painting, gardening, shoveling, cooking, baking, counting, word processing, doing the dishes and all sorts of other things. But no matter what you do, it always goes better when you use the CORRECT tool for the job. You don’t use a straight screwdriver on a Phillip’s head. You don’t use a meat cleaver to cut bread and don’t use mom’s fabric scissors to cut paper!
No matter what the work, use the right tool for the job and (if you all remember Tim the Toolman Taylor) the right tool is always better with… MORE POWER! Uh, uh, uh! Even though Jesus lived and was into woodworking before power tools, he understood that. Jesus knew that it’s one thing to be given a job; but what we really need with the job, are the right tools to get it done!
We’ve got a job to do and it’s time to get to work. “You WILL BE my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” YOU will be! He’s looking at you, ya know? Does that make you squirm a bit in your seats? It makes me squirm in my seat and I’m not even sitting down! If you’re squirming, though, you’re in good company.
The disciples were squirming too when they heard that from Jesus right before he rose on up into heaven. I imagine those disciples just stood there with their mouths hanging open and I think it was only PARTLY because they saw the Ascension! I bet the other thing that had them standing there with their chins on the ground was the thing that Jesus had just asked them to do! “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
They were so gob-smacked, they needed a couple of angels to come and pick their jaws up off the ground, tell them to stop catching flies with those open mouths and get on with the job! Jesus left in a surprising way and Jesus would return in a surprising way at a surprising time. Worrying about that, however, wasn’t part of their job.
The job the disciples got and the job we have, is to tell the story of Jesus, and Jesus left a specific action plan for this job. Start in Jerusalem. In other words, start right where you are; right where you live; with the people you know best. Start right here! In this congregation! Tell each other the Jesus story and how it makes a difference in our lives. What would happen if at coffee hour each week, we shared with one another where we saw Jesus at work in our lives in the past week? From there we're to spread the story just a little wider… in our homes, to our families, to our friends over coffee and to your neighbor out for a walk. What would happen if we told the Jesus story to our family and friends? What if we did that FIRST without any words? What if we SHOWED our next door neighbor the Jesus story by how we took care of them… valued them… and thanked them for just being our neighbor?
From there, we’re supposed to head out to Judea. Judea was where the fringe folks lived. Jesus is calling us to the fringes too… to the homeless and hungry, the imprisoned and impoverished, to the cast outs and left outs. What would it look like to sit with someone and listen to their story when most of the world doesn’t even see them?
From the fringe in Judea, out further to Samaria. Samaria was where the people lived who were close in geography but farther away in culture, tradition, religion, language and story. Neighbors by address, but still strangers. Jesus calls us next to show them the Jesus story by lifting them up, building their dignity, treating them with compassion and justice and inviting THEM to become US.
I don’t know about you, but this feels like a GIGANTIC job! If there was ever a job that needed MORE POWER it’s this one! Telling the Jesus story. Living the Jesus story. Doing what Jesus did by caring for the least, lost and last. WOW that’s HUGE!!! If we’re going to do all that, we’re REALLY gonna need MORE POWER!
Jesus told the disciples what he needed them to do and THEN gave them the tools to get the job done. He opened up their minds to the scriptures THEN sent them the Holy Spirit. They got the tools, then on Pentecost they got the power and the disciples were set and ready to go… and so are you! In our Baptisms we’ve each been given a special set of tools and they too have been plugged into the greatest power source in all of creation! Equipped with the right tools and charged with the power of the Holy Spirit, we too are disciples ready to get to work!
Now, it’s important to keep in mind…we all have a unique set of tools. Some have hammers, others a saw. You might have a socket wrench while someone else has a 300 horse power V8 screw driver! Together we have all sorts of different tools and that’s why Jesus calls us to work together, each of working on our unique piece of the same big job and all plugged into the power of the Holy Spirit… a power source that will NEVER run out! What’s in the tool box God has given you? They’re all plugged in and powered up! So don’t just stand there with your mouth hanging open, catchin’ flies like some bunch of disciples on a hill! Get to work! Amen