Buddy system - Reflections - 6-29-16

 Texts for Sunday July 3, 2016
Buddy system

 I’ve accompanied youth groups to ELCA National Youth Gatherings in San Antonio, Dallas, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Detroit. One of the non-negotiable rules of our travel covenant for each trip was “Never travel alone.” We were bound to the “buddy-system” for our trip.  

While the system was an attempt to keep each of our lambs safe (teenage lambs don’t always make the wisest choices), an equally important reason for the buddy system was to help the traveler remember that s/he was not on a personal “God & me trip”. Instead each one was a part of a specific community of Christ (insert congregational name), and a part of a larger community of Christ (insert Youth Gathering theme). They might also have felt a part of the ELCA community as well as the global Church. It is a version of “there are no Lone Rangers” here. God has designed humankind for community. 

In Sunday's Gospel text Jesus sends out 70 followers as advance teams to the places he intends to go, bringing peace and healing, showing that God’s kingdom is near. There is plenty to do, but it won’t be easy. They will be vulnerable among wolves and dependent on the hospitality that is offered – or not offered. And how about the “packing list”? 

Jesus used the buddy system when he sent them off. Perhaps two of his lambs were safer than one. But most certainly they could look at each other and remember the community from which they came and the one who sent them. They were not in this alone. 

This text follows directly after last week’s text. I was startled that there were 70 people available for this assignment. I didn’t picture the traveling group that big and I did not think he would get a large number of affirmative answers to his invitation to follow him. But, 70 it is. Also note that he gives them rather specific instructions for rejection - good idea in light of last week’s raining-down-fire idea!

If you extend peace to someone who doesn’t want to receive it, don’t worry about it. That peace is still in you. If a community doesn’t receive you and your message, dust off your shoes. Still tell them (perhaps even sadly?) that the Kingdom of God drew near and they missed it…. then leave (no fire).

So how about us?  What if we extended peace to each place we enter? Do you think that would have any impact on the people there? How about an impact on you?

The disciples came back rejoicing. They were excited about what they were able to do. But, Jesus says, your works are not the point. You have been gathered and loved by God and that fact is written in heaven.

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Find more reflections on these texts in the G.I.F.T. for Sunday July 3, 2016.

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