(I read several sermons a week and owe these thoughts to wonderings I had after reading The Rev. Luke A. Powery‘s (Dean of Duke University Chapel) homily for August 20’s first sentence. You can read that sermon in The Christian Century’s August 2, 2017, edition.)
Then Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. [Matthew 15:21]
Evidently, geography matters. In Dean Powery’s words, “Jesus leaves familiar, comfortable territory and people—the disciples and the Pharisees—to enter a sort of red-light district, a place most people would not dare to go.”
My mom would have had a stroke if she thought I was advocating going into a red light district. Still, Jesus seems ok with it. That’s because Jesus has a plan.
Jesus plainly asks us to leave the comfortable and secure, be it geography or people or both. He did and we were blessed. Jesus asks us to do that for others and for him.
What I think that means for us is that each of us, individually and as local congregations are asked to do is to remember that we are in mission for Jesus. And, if we are in mission for Jesus, to discern what we are to do about it where we are planted. To “discern” means to play, to look around, to do some research, to follow the Spirit’s leading whether the Spirit speaks directly, through others, and simply in our conscience that “something’s got to happen”.
I ask myself daily to try to be a little uncomfortable for Jesus, to change the “geography” of my life. If you need help remembering to ask it (or if you’re like me and don’t want to ask for uncomfortableness), try using the Wesley Covenant Prayer.
I will pray that you leave some of your familiar and comfortable territory for Jesus’ sake; please pray the same for me (I think).
A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low by thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
United Methodist Hymnal, No. 607
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