2nd Sunday after Pentecost
June 14, 2020
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.” Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.”
Something to Do
The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few
There is no shortage of work for us to do in the name of Jesus – no shortage of sickness in need of curing or unclean spirits in need of casting out. Happily, there is also no shortage of Good News to be proclaimed because the Kingdom of God is at hand and the promise of life and love is sure.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, in his sermon for Pentecost 2020, identified the great pandemic in need of curing as the pandemic of self-centredness which leads, among other things, to the terrible sin of racism. Begin the work of curing that sickness by learning.
Consider gathering a small group of trusted friends (in a socially distant way or online) to read a book that will help you do this learning. I will be reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo with three other priests in the diocese. Other possibilities could include Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death , and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga; How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? (short stories) by N.K. Jemisin; or Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard.
Last week’s Story at Home included more book suggestions and, if you have children in your household, take a look at the resources shared by Gabrielle in last week’s Sunday school at home email.
He had compassion on them
The etymology of compassion is to suffer-with. It’s an imaginative act of entering into another person’s story so that their experience has an impact on you, too.
Practice compassion this week. Anytime you encounter someone else, take a moment to imagine how they might be feeling. Notice when this is easy and when this is hard. Are there certain people for whom you struggle to feel compassion? Are there certain situations which makes it harder for you? Wonder about all these patterns.
Something to Wonder
Go nowhere among the Gentiles
Most of us would be included in this category – members of the nations other than Israel. How does hearing Jesus reserve the Good News and healing power for the “lost sheep of Israel” make you feel? Why do you think he did it? Why do you think he later extended the disciples’ mandate to include “all nations”?
You received without payment, give without payment
Eucharistic theology teaches us that everything we have and everything we are comes from God, including the great privilege of having something to give away. This non-transactional relationship is at the heart of our relationship with God – we can’t buy or earn grace which also means we can’t sell it. All we can do, in response to receiving it, is to give it.
Contemplate the gifts you have been given.
Contemplate how you can give them away.
Something to Learn
Ministry among the harassed and helpless
This Sunday, the Rev’d Caroline Ducros will be speaking to us about her work in prison ministry. As we anticipate her visit, here are two articles about the state of prison ministry in the time of COVID-19.
From “God’s total identification with the incarcerated” in The Anglican Journal:
“I really think our prison system’s problems are being exposed through this crisis, because we see that our prisons aren’t equipped to deal with a public health crisis. The conditions of lockdown are very penal, very punishing for people, and it causes massively significant, detrimental mental health impacts on prisoners.”
From “Spiritual needs of vulnerable federal inmates unmet during pandemic: chaplains” in The National Post
“Federal prison chaplains say the spiritual needs of inmates have become an unnecessary casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic at a time when offenders are feeling particularly vulnerable and alone.”
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.