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4 Pentecost - Luke 10:1-11, 17-20

Once upon a time, my girlfriend said to me, “Brian, I think you love the Dodgers more than you love me.”

I replied, “I’ve known them longer.”

She hasn’t spoken to me since 1995.

I think it might be over between us, so now I have welcomed a new love into my life.

I turned down an invitation to tomorrow’s Dodger game to stay home with her.

Fireworks scare her, as they do many animals.

She is a rescue dog who was clearly abused at some point: she is skittish and easily

startled by loud noises and sudden, violent movements.

She is, by American standards, rather pathetic: small, nervous, needy, and not very productive, profitable, or self-reliant.

She is also powerful enough to keep me home from a suite at Dodger Stadium with her iron grip on my heart.

In the long string of things Jesus says to his ambassadors—let’s assume as members of his

church that includes us—he wants them to see two things.

See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.

See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and nothing will hurt you.

You are very vulnerable.

You are very powerful.

Most of us will gravitate to one message or the other, and all of us need to hear and absorb both.

Jesus takes pains to reinforce the reality of our vulnerability.

There will be no credit cards, no hotel stays, no luggage, no maps, no Triple A triptiks, no cell phones, no ordering off the menu, no yelp reviews, no guarantees of quality or welcome.

You have one companion and no promises.

You are at the mercy of whatever you find wherever you go, like a little dog with no

driver’s licence or income stream.

You are like newborns in diapers, and like frail seniors in diapers.

You will spend Independence Day being completely dependent.

If you’re not there in your life right now, you have been, and you likely will be again.

The truth Jesus is teaching, not just conceptually but experientially, is the one written by Martin Luther two days before he died: We are beggars. That is true.

We did not engineer our own birth, we did not hang the sun, and we remain utterly dependent on the grace of God and others to survive a dangerous, ravenous world.

It’s a truth we don’t like to see or hear or accept, much less live and share with others.

We’d rather purchase protection from security systems and insurance brokers than risk being dependent on the possible kindness of people around us who we know will judge us because hello, we judge them.

Better to die than end up having to rely on someone who turns out to be a Samaritan.

Better to skip dessert altogether than end up choking down a slice of humble pie.

But Jesus sends us into our fears.

See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.

See, I am sending you empty-handed and full-hearted into the world.

Jesus loves me, so I thought, but the Bible sounds like not!

Why would Jesus do such a thing?

See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will hurt you.

I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning—you did that, I didn’t.

Satan doesn’t either get vanquished in heaven or tear out of there to handle an outbreak of grace on earth when Jesus is preaching and healing—it’s when his ambassadors are.

It’s when we hit the pavement carrying nothing but peace.

It’s when we bring healing and hope as gifts rather than transactions.

It’s when we get rejected and respond not with vengeance and violence, but by shedding every toxic no like foot grime and moving forward to someone else with God’s persistent yes.

With no greed and no grudges, it’s hard for evil to get a toehold in us.

Letting go—of stuff, of wrongs, of expectations, of entitlements, of whatever consumes and distracts us, and also letting go of the love and peace and blessings we hoard in fear that there won’t be enough left for us—liberates us and gives us enormous power no demon or Satan can match.

We are more powerful than we realize just being who we are.

We are children of God. That is true.

When you absorb these truths together, expect confusion and rejection from the world.

You are extremely vulnerable; you are extremely powerful.

The world thinks these are opposites.

Jesus does not.

Jesus, who traded in heaven for no place to lay his head, sees vulnerability not as an absence of power, but the presence of power and the pathway to more.

Jesus takes up his cross, refusing to retaliate on the world’s terms.

He is powerful enough to be utterly vulnerable.

He is strong enough to let go of everything and leave his destiny completely in God’s hands.

He is the lamb of God, devoured by the world’s wolves and given all authority in heaven and on earth, which of course he does not defend, hoard, or hold onto, but shares with us.

He stretches forth his punctured hands and says, Peace be with you.

As the Father sent me, so I send you.

Some days, we will shake the dust off our feet in frustration.

Some days, we will come home bubbling with joy after besting demons.

Many days, we will carry a message that meets with confusion and rejection because simplicity is unpopular and peace doesn’t make enough money.

Every day there is cause to rejoice.

Satan doesn’t last in heaven, but you will.

Your name is written there, which means it’s permanent.

Many things will scar you.

Something will kill you.

And nothing will hurt you.

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