SPARKS, Part 4

Based on a sermon for Wildwind Community Church.

Matthew 10:5-10 (The Message)
5 Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy.
6 Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood.
7 Tell them that the kingdom is here.
8 Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
9 “Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start.
10 You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.

These disciples that were called out are sent out. This is a significant shift in the lives of our fisherman friends. They are sent out to teach, heal, and serve. This was the work of priests not fisherman.

In this culture, young Jews who took on the family business, like Peter and Andrew, and James and John, would have already been to the religious school and found out that they wouldn’t cut it as Rabbis. The system in place was that everybody went to school and the best of the best, who would have had the entire Old Testament memorized by the time they were 14, would become apprentices of a Rabbi and the rest would take on the family trade. (See Rob Bell’s Nooma video “Dust”) So these guys who weren’t “good enough” are invited to follow Jesus and sent out to teach and heal and serve. Look what happens when they get back:

Luke 9:10 (New International Version)
10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida

Can you imagine being a fly on the wall during this conversation? “They reported to Jesus all they had done”. Just imagine it:

“And then Pete went up to this possessed dude and sent the demon running for the hills!”

“And then John went up to this woman who was covered in pussing, bloody sores and spit in to the sand and rubbed it on her wounds, which was pretty disgusting to watch actually, but then John prayed for her to be healed and you know what happened when she rinsed off the spit and sand? The sores were gone!”

“And then Andrew told a family about your Kingdom and then they all walked right down to the river and he baptized them in your name. He sure was a fisher of men today!”

They were just kicking back with Jesus reflecting on what had happened.

It doesn’t say in the text what they actually did on their mission but it does say that they shared what they had done so they must have done something! And I can only imagine what these disciples did when they were sent out with the power of God living in them.

We don’t know exactly what they did but can you get a picture of these guys stepping out of their comfort zone, experiencing God in new ways, and being transformed? Does this sound like communitas? Does this sound like the boys of the African tribe sitting down with their elders to debrief about all they were learning and experiencing in the margins, away from everyday life?

Don’t forget that at least four of these guys used to be fisherman, who by the worlds standards weren’t considered “good enough” to do the work of God. This is a very significant shift from their old way of life to the new. History would be quite different if these fishermen hadn’t taken the risk of dropping their nets and following Jesus.

This is really just one example but if you take at look through the story of the Bible you can see the concepts of liminality and communitas shaping the people of God. You’ve got Abraham and his family being told by God to get up and set out on a journey into a new land he promised them, Moses and the Israelites fleeing Egypt, Joseph and his brothers journeying back to Egypt and being reconciled, Jesus and his followers leaving behind life as they knew and preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God, Paul and the churches he planted living counter to the culture around them.

All of these stories resonate with aspects of a shared experience, stepping out of safety and security, and bringing God’s Kingdom into people’s lives and the broken world. This is communitas.

To be continued…

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