Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
Luke 9:1-6 (NRSV)
Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
“Take nothing for the journey.” Seriously? Jesus has called his disciples on the grandest world tour of preaching the good news, but they’re not supposed to bring anything? This may seem a little extreme to the modern reader, but I think it points to something deeper. The instruction to leave worldly possessions behind indicates that they are not needed, but what will be needed will be provided.
The idea reminds me of the song “A Stick, a Carrot & String” by the band mewithoutYou. The lyrics describe the nativity scene in which a “mangy goat” stands at a distance from the beauty and promise surrounding the baby Jesus because he’s “got nothing smart to say” and feels unworthy. After we are introduced to the goat, with “crooked teeth and matted coat, weary eyes and worn, chipped and twisted horns,” the following stanzas offer reassurance: “No clever talk, nor a gift to bring requires our lowly, lovely King. Come now empty handed, you don’t need anything!”
Sometimes, like the poor goat in the song, we struggle with feelings of inadequacy. It is easy to convince ourselves that we don’t possess the right shoe brands, the right skill set, the right test scores, or the right paycheck. But, Jesus reminds us that to do the work of our God, we never needed any of that in the first place. To walk with Jesus is to walk empty handed towards love and peace and justice.
Merciful God, so often we forget that when we come to you with nothing, we come with all we need. Teach us the way towards a life that is wholly dependent on you, rather than what our society tells us to lean on. God, open our eyes to look out for those who stand at a distance from your glory, and give us the ability to welcome them into your community. Lord, thank you for calling us into service despite our misunderstandings. We will keep trying. Amen.
Go with God!