Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.
Jesus sent [them]out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. 9Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food.
Do you hear it?
Do you hear the voice of Jesus and what he is saying not just to the twelve, but to all of us who claim the title, ‘follower of Christ’?
Do you hear the call to action in this Gospel this morning?
Because when I read it, I sat up straight.
My friends we are living in an apocalyptic time – Apocalypse as I understand it, is the Greek word for Revelation meaning an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling.
There has been some serious unveiling happening not just for our neighbors to the south but for us here in Canada too, on some really important things about race and systematic racism and the very different ways that black and brown bodies are treated from the ways that white bodies are treated. And we can no longer claim ignorance.
“Go to the lost sheep”, Jesus says, “proclaim the good news, cure the sick and raise the dead, cast out the demons.
Are you uncomfortable yet?
Because you probably should be. I am.
Jesus is not asking us to stand on the side and observe. This is a commissioning of the disciples, a call to action.
To use our bodies and our hearts and our minds and move on this.
For too long, too many of us have been complicit in a way of being that has benefited from controlling, containing and even killing black and brown bodies, so that we could attain our dreams.
There is no secret that the history of the church is wrapped up in dominion and assimilation and that we have played our part.
And with thanks to the rallying cry of Black Lives Matter and Black Trans lives matter and Indigenous lives matter, we can no longer look away or pretend that we don’t know.
There is an illness that must be cured and I am not just talking about COVID.
We keep talking about getting back to ‘normal’ after all of this – and I’m not sure about you, but it’s pretty clear to me that what we took for ‘normal’ before all of this – was actually, in many ways, pretty broken.
‘Normal’ wasn’t working. And my heart hurts.
I don’t want to go back.
I want to have learned and listened and I want to choose to be different because of what I am hearing and reading. When it is safe to resume life outside of my home and closer that 6 meters apart, I want to be able to use by body to show up, to walk along side, to advocate and to move over because while black lives matter protests are happening in the USA, they are also happening here and it is also becoming very clear that we need to ensure that they matter here in Canada too, and that we need to include indigenous lives and to yell just as loudly for them.
There are lost sheep everywhere and Jesus says.
Go to them and listen and learn what is needed and help to cure this illness that has infected all of us and our systems and the ways that we think about and use power.
I read a commentary by theologian Debie Thomas, this week that was looking at this Gospel and here is some of what she said:
To make God believable here and now is to stand in the hot white center of the world’s pain. Not just to glance in the general direction of suffering and injustice, and then sidle away, but to dwell there. To identify ourselves wholly with those who are aching, weeping, and dying. In the case of America’s [we could also say Canada] longstanding racial crisis, making Christ credible means moving beyond denial, beyond willful ignorance, and beyond the Band-aid approach of “thoughts and prayers.” It means deciding, as grateful followers of a brown man who died at the hands of brutal law enforcement two thousand years ago, that we will not tolerate the demon of racism in our midst for one more generation.
Why does Jesus ask so much of us? Because he gave us so much. “You received without payment. Now give without payment.” Maybe, if we can put aside our reluctance and our fear, we will feel the weight, the power, and — dare I say it? — the glory of this calling. Jesus calls us only to what we were created for. Jesus knows the cure for our brokenness, our malaise, our boredom, our angst. He knows that when we go out into the world in his name, healing what is diseased, resurrecting what is dead, and casting out what is evil, we participate in the transformation of our own souls. What we’re hearing in these days is the very heart of God within us, deep calling to deep, the Spirit crying out on behalf of a world desperate for justice and mercy. Will we listen? 
And so I wonder, can you hear it now?
Will we listen?
Will we look at our beloved church, our country and ourselves and search out where we can do better? Will we take our baptismal call to respect the dignity of every human being, seriously, with our whole heart and with God’s help?
I hope so. I want to. I don’t think we have a choice.
It is scary to think about showing up, about advocating for change. It is certain that when we do this work, we will feel uncomfortable. We will have to be prepared to give some things up – including the assumption that things were working before.
If we are going to come back into our house of worship – we have to do it not for our comfort – though I admit that it is comforting to be in this beautiful space and with you. And we will have to come back not just for community – though of course that is important.
But we have to come back because we take the Gospel seriously enough that we are prepared to do something about it.
We have to come back prepared to be changed and to work to change the world around us.
We have to come back so that we can prepare ourselves to go out and act – to cure the illness that has for too long undergirded our assumptions, our access to safety and education and health to name a few.
We have to come back because Jesus is calling us to do and to be better and because in order to do that, we need each other.
And that is the good news, I think: that we are called to do this together, that we need and have each other.
That Jesus doesn’t commission the ‘One’ but the ‘12’ – and that Jesus doesn’t ask of us any more than he asked of himself – which is maybe good and hard new – because of course Jesus gave everything.
So, maybe let me try to say this another way – we are called by love to bring love into the world through working to cure the illness of systemic racism that has for too long surrounded us, curated our politics and our laws and even what we know or learn. We are called to care for one another and to show up. To find the lost and to come alongside them because all of us deserves to know love and safety. We are called together to work for a better world than the one we left behind before we had to go and shelter in our homes.
We are called to pay attention and to listen.
The veil has been lifted, and we can no longer say that we don’t know what is going on.
And here is another bit of good news – we do none of this alone.
I’m a broken record on this – I say it over and over again – because I think it’s easy to forget that we are never left to do any of this on our own. Our God is faithful and loves us first and never leaves us, ever.
So we come to his house to prayer to pray, to be fed, to listen and to learn. And there are even opportunities to do some of this work happening right here including a book club that the Vicar is planning to lead over the summer on the book: White Fragility, and there is some really good work being done by the Truth and Reconciliation Circle who have also curated a book list that you can easily access, just to name a couple.
We begin this work that we have been called by God and commissioned by Jesus to do, by choosing a place to start. And you don’t have to bring anything with you – just a willingness to go and be changed. And the grace to know that you will make mistakes but that this is the work.
Go Jesus says, proclaim the good news, the kingdom of heaven is near.
May it be so.