Our gospel reading for today is a pivotal one in the trajectory of the ministry of Jesus. He calls the twelve together and explains to them that they now have authority over all the demons and to cure diseases. He sends them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. They are to take nothing on their journey. No staff. No bag. No bread. No money.
Interestingly enough, the next vignette is of the feeding of the five thousand. It is as if to say, “God will provide.” It is also reminding us that, like yeast, the kingdom of heaven is growing and spreading – wildly, in all directions.
Sometimes I wonder what that would be like – to do ministry with no preparation for the journey. Just go wander out and start. Take no food. Take no money. Just trust in God to provide.
It is almost unfathomable for us. Of course, we aren’t the twelve. I don’t see us “casting demons out” on a daily basis at First Pres. At least we wouldn’t put it that way anymore. We have different ways of articulating ministry these days, don’t we?
But I wonder what we can learn from this yeast-like approach to ministry. What does it mean to trust in God as we proclaim the kingdom of God? How does the feeding of the five thousand take form in our time and situation?
“Give us today our daily bread.” It isn’t, “Give us today a silo of wheat so we can last through the winter” but “daily bread”.
I know personally I carry these same burdens in life – an obsession with material possession, like so many USAmericans. A good example of this? I am a home owner. I have responsibilities in my job, and at home. And so the convenient excuses begin: “I can’t just up and go, Jesus. I have too many responsibilities!”
Or can I? In this postmodern and technological culture, the questions still come: How are we called to move beyond ourselves? Now that the church has already spread to the corners of the globe our call may look a bit different – but in so many ways it is still the same. How are we spreading the good news? What is the most effective way to do that for each of us?