Chair of the District Revd. Rachel Parkinson met some of the Circuit’s members at the Welcome Service for Revd. Chris Hardy at Bayston Hill in September.
Delivering the sermon Revd. Parkinson explored the commission of Jesus’ disciples, the sending out with the message that they are to do as he has done. Referencing Matthew 10 she considered Jesus laying down the terms and conditions of that commission and pointed out that “There is no promise of faith”, and that the disciples, though commissioned and named by Jesus, exist to us largely as names on a page.
Likening ministry to an enterprise, Revd. Parkinson suggested that in the enterprise of the Father and Son, the father had been running the show for several centuries but the performance on the shop floor was poor. “Somehow the instructions were sent down to the shop floor but they never really got the knack of eternity very well and so lots and lots of mistakes were made. So the Father brought the son along.” Through Jesus’ hands-on approach he demonstrated the line of business the family was in: Liberation, healing and joy giving, and the son was really good at it. People realised what they were supposed to have been doing all these years.
The son built a big team around him, selected and commissioned only twelve and as they were sent out to do the work he gave them terms and conditions and a summary of what they should not take: No money, no extra clothes… Jesus tells them to take nothing with them.
Revd. Parkinson stated that while Matthew 10 is set in a specific time and place, the scripture outlines the terms and conditions for all those who have followed since, all those who want to share the work, to carry on being the hands and feet, the eyes and ears and the heart. She noted that ministry, far from being about status, ego or fame, is entirely about being called and for those who are called there is no fortune. For Revd. Hardy, she said, as for all ministers sent to an unfamiliar place to work, this means leaving behind all the securities. “All those things which ground you in a community” will be missing for a while.
Jesus stressed to his followers how very dependent they would be on the people in the communities they were going to. Itineracy and moving on not only throws us into dependency on those we are going to but also on God, so we enter a time of hard spiritual growth.
However, Revd. Parkinson reminded, alongside the dependency is the commission to demonstrate the love of Christ to all people. To challenge in the face of disputes which divide, speak the truth in love and to be a little light of joy in those communities we serve