Call Waiting

Call Waiting – June 18th, 2017

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Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-23)

35Then 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.36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

10:1Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.2These 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;3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans,6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.7As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.9Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts,10no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for labourers deserve their food.11Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave.12As you enter the house, greet it.13If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.15Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town.

16“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.17Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues;18and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles.19When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time;20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.21Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death;22and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.


It’s hard to overestimate the singular focus of a 12 year old girl with an agenda. All day every day the question comes up – when can I get a phone? All my friends have one – when do I get one? We haven’t had a corporate style pitch with a power point presentation and handouts yet, but I think we’re close.

We do our best to deflect, but it’s having less and less success. When I was your age, I didn’t have a cell phone – that’s because they didn’t exist, dad. Nothing makes a parent feel like such a dinosaur as being born in the last millennium.

Of course, we had a telephone…rotary…long distance wasn’t an option. There was no caller id, no call waiting, no automatic redial. If someone dialed us up, they probably did it on purpose.

Nowadays, we never know who is on the other line. There are scams everywhere, and experts recommend not answering if you don’t recognize the number. “Is it really worth taking the call?” “You might lose everything!” These are perilous times, my friends.

And yet, we come here on Sundays. That’s answering a call to community. We’ll accept the offering in a little while, and that’s answering a call to stewardship.

What about the call of discipleship? Do we answer? What would we do if we knew it was Jesus? Would we pick it up, or let it go straight to voicemail.


Romans 5:1-8

1Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.7Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.


WWI Museum – there’s a whole room where visitors can make their own recruitment posters. There are plenty of examples from America, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Austria-Hungary.

Most of the Enlistment Posters had similar themes – Honor, Service, Defense of Ideals, Territory, and Lifestyle.

We’re all familiar with the famous poster of Uncle Sam pointing and proclaiming, “I Want You For U.S. Army” that first appeared in 1917.

The recruitment posters didn’t always match the reality of the trenches or the battle field. Being a recruit is very different than being on staff.


We read about the Great Commission last week – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything I have taught and shown you…and remember, I am with you until the very end of the age.”

We have our assignment. We know what we need to do, but do we have any idea of the reception we will receive?

Jesus says:

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. The plump fruit is about to fall from the trees…the branches are bowing down under its weight. Ask God to send out workers into the orchard rows. The harvest is here.

Twelve are going to go out – student teachers on their first assignment. They know nothing. Sweaty palms and shaky knees. The power is not in what they bring with them…but with the authority Jesus gives them.

I remember my ordination service 15 years ago – there were passages of encouragement.

“How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Isaiah 52:7

That sounds just fine to me. I’ll take two of what the prophet Isaiah is selling.


Jesus on the other hand…

Sheep, wolves, serpents, and doves – it’s almost like the disciples just got back from the zoo. It’s a dangerous call to take.

Hill Street Blues – Sgt. Phil Esterhaus – “Let’s be careful out there.”

Do we want any of it?

In the waning days of WW II during a discussion of the future of Eastern Europe British Prime Minister Winston Churchill cautioned Joseph Stalin to consider the views of the Vatican. To this the Soviet leader responded “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?”

How do we proclaim Christ crucified in a divided world? What power does it have against guns, armies, inhumanity?

Go into hostile territory… what is hostile territory right now? Where are the unclean spirits? Where are the diseases and sicknesses? I can’t list them all off today…so I want you to think on it. This week has shown us one example of hostile territory.

We go into those places of cruelty and division – to care for the oppressed and to change the hearts of the oppressor – we go to the left and to the right – we go with the central love of Christ.

Baseball should be untouchable. And yet, we saw gun violence in Washington this week.

“People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.” – Terrance Mann

We look out at dangerous times, so we need a Godly vision of what was good and could even be better.

It’s a strange and wonderful calling. This is the most dangerous call you can ever pick up…but it’s a calling with power and purpose… cure, heal, raise. The field is ready, the hour is at hand – the path might be dangerous, but we’re not alone.

“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.” – Buechner

To be sent by Jesus is to be sent AS Jesus.

Remember I am with you to the very end of the age.

The phone is ringing…the call is now…Lord, give us the grace to answer.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.






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