Tag Archives: making disciples

Disciples Who Make Disciples – sermon on Matthew 28:16-20

June 11, 2017
Trinity A
View video of this sermon here.

Do you like a good mystery? Summer reading lists always include a section on mystery novels, and some authors, like Agatha Christie, have made a career of writing them. We usually associate “mystery” with fiction, but we aren’t so comfortable when it comes to talking about true mysteries. In fact, the Protestant church through the centuries has played down any interest in the mysteries of faith, beyond reciting “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

And yet, every time we receive Communion as Methodists, we give thanks for “this holy mystery” of Christ’s body and blood being shared with us, so that we might be for the world the body of Christ redeemed by his blood. Like it or not, following Jesus means engaging in things we can’t explain. Faith means buying into what you can’t prove, because if you could prove it, you wouldn’t need faith, would you! Sometimes, what moves us into deeper, more profound trust is our willingness to believe in the mystery.

We celebrate one of the holiest of mysteries today, on Trinity Sunday. It would be easy to get stuck in a bunch of poor analogies, trying to explain the unexplainable aspect of God’s identity as Three Persons in One God, trying to “de-mystify” the mystery. To understand the Trinity, we’d want to go first to scripture, and we’d run into a problem right away. You see, the Bible doesn’t use the word “trinity” or any kind of explanation for the Triune God – at all. Continue reading

A Different Pay Scale – Sermon on Matthew 20:1-16

Have you ever been jealous? Have you ever watched as someone else received the recognition or reward that you expected to get? You had to smile and congratulate someone who you knew didn’t deserve this prize any more than you did, while inside you were wishing you’d been the one getting the pats on the back. Been there? Sometimes, life just isn’t fair. Sometimes we have to watch as someone else gets what we think we should be getting. And it’s no fun. Our human nature wants to see the pie divided evenly. We want everyone to be treated fairly, but we especially want to be treated more fairly than anyone else. And when we have to stand aside and watch someone else get the glory, or the money, or the nice house or the most popular prom date, it gives us pain. We get what the Greeks called the “evil eye” – that green-eyed monster, envy, ruins our joy.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been learning from Jesus what it means to belong to the Kingdom of God. Following Jesus means confronting those who have wronged us, and it means forgiving over and over again, far beyond the expectations of reasonably polite behavior. This week, we get another lesson in Kingdom living, as we listen in on another conversation between Jesus and his disciples. Only this time, Jesus isn’t teaching us how to resolve problems we have with others in the Kingdom of God. This week, Jesus teaches us how to solve a problem every one of us must face at some point, a problem we have with ourselves.

Jesus is speaking:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard. ’When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:1-16)

Many scholars consider the parable of the workers in the vineyard to be one of the most difficult parables to interpret. Like any parable, it’s hard to know what’s supposed to be symbolic, and what the symbols mean. Jesus loved to use everyday life as the basis for his stories, but there are several things in this parable that just don’t add up, and theologians have been arguing over these details since at least the third century.

For example, it doesn’t add up that the owner of the vineyard would be hiring his own workers, if he has a manager. That’s something the manager would do. And it doesn’t add up that the owner keeps coming back to the marketplace to hire more workers throughout the day. Any self-respecting vineyard owner would know how many workers he needed, and would hire them all at once first thing in the morning. And the most obvious thing that doesn’t add up is the way the workers get paid at the end of the day.

But Jesus is a master storyteller. He knows the way to set up the scene to grab his disciples’ attention. He knows how to build the suspense, and introduce the conflict that creates a good story. And he knows how to resolve that conflict so that his listeners never forget the moral of the story. And that ‘moral of the story’ is not what anyone expects it to be.

For this lesson to make sense, we need to know a little background. In last week’s story of the unforgiving servant, we learned that a denarius was considered a usual day’s wage in the first century. But it wasn’t a huge sum. It was barely enough to get by. That’s why the Torah insisted that laborers be paid at the end of each day they worked, because those who lived on a denarius a day struggled just above the poverty line. Some employers took advantage of day laborers, paying them as little as possible for extremely difficult and dangerous work. But this was not always the case.

The first century historian Josephus tells us that, following the completion of the Temple, 18,000 workers were unemployed. To meet their needs, and to make sure the Temple treasury was never so full of money that it would draw the attention of the Romans, it became customary for the Temple to “hire” workers to do minimal labor, while receiving a full day’s pay.[1] So, when Jesus sets up the conditions for his story, the number of laborers, and even the flat rate that was paid to all of them, are within the realm of possibility. We have a gracious landowner, who reminds us of a gracious God.

Then we get to the conflict of the parable. It just doesn’t make sense that the landowner who hired the workers would tell his manager to pay them in reverse order. There would have been no complaints from the first workers hired if they’d just taken their money and left, before the later workers received their pay. They would never have known how much the other workers got paid, and they wouldn’t have cared. They got what was promised to them, and that would have been good enough.

So, imagine their pleasant surprise when they see workers, who had barely been in the vineyard long enough to break a sweat, getting a full day’s pay. Imagine their delight as they realize this landowner has a generous spirit. They feel good about the work they’ve done, and they trust the landowner to be as generous with them as he has been with the latecomers to the vineyard. As they step up to the pay table, they are smiling and expectant, ready to say thanks for the landowner’s generosity, certainly ready to come back tomorrow for another day of labor! As they reach out to take what is rightfully theirs, they are already thinking of the food it will buy for their children, of the debts they can begin to pay off with what is left over. And the manager drops into their waiting hand … one denarius. A usual day’s pay. The same pay those lazy bums who only worked one hour got. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. But they know the manager isn’t to blame – he’s just doing his job. They turn immediately to the landowner himself and demand to know what’s going on here!

“It’s my money and I’ll do what I want to with it” isn’t a very satisfying response. They were hoping for, “Oh, my mistake, of course you should be paid more.” Instead, they hear, “isn’t this the amount we agreed on this morning? Can’t I choose what to do with my own money?” And then the real stinger: “Are you jealous because I was generous with others?”

Some scholars think this parable is about salvation history, and the tension that existed between Jews and Gentiles in the early church. “Shouldn’t the Gentiles have to follow the Law, just as we have all these centuries, in order to be counted as children of God?” the Jewish Christians argued. “Why should they get the same reward as those of us who have lived under the Law since birth?”

Some scholars think it’s about salvation, teaching us that there is no difference, in the eyes of God, between faithful Christians who have lived a holy life since childhood and those who make a deathbed confession of faith. Other scholars have assigned different meanings to different elements of the story, and some arguments are convincing while others are not. Some have concentrated on the phrase that acts as a pair of bookends around this story: The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. They see this proverb as an explanation of the parable.

But what if it’s the other way around? What if the parable is just an example of the proverb, this saying that Jesus liked to repeat over and over again? What if this story describes exactly how the Kingdom of God is not what we expect, how God takes our human understanding of the way things work, and stands it on its head?

What if the moral of the story isn’t so much, “God is just and generous and can do whatever he wants,” but instead is a lesson in humility for the disciples of Jesus, who had a tendency to think more highly of themselves just because they got to hang out with the Son of God all the time? What if the point is that God uses a different pay scale than the one we would use if we were in charge? Gods pay scale isn’t based on our merit, but God’s great love for us. God’s pay scale gives us our daily bread, so that we will depend completely on him.

“Are you jealous because I was generous with these other workers?” the landowner asks. Jesus has taught us how to get along with each other, and now he is teaching us how to get along with ourselves when we begin to think we deserve more than we’re getting, when we start comparing ourselves to others, and when we wonder why they get all the blessings while we do all the work.

Envy is a particularly deadly sin. Even if it is never expressed, it eats away at us from the inside. It prevents us from noticing the many ways God blesses us, because we are always comparing our blessings to someone else’s, and that comparison creates resentment and anger inside us. Envy prevents us from living the abundant life Christ promises to us. And if we aren’t living an abundant life, we can’t possibly invite others to share in it. Instead of directing our full attention on God and his goodness, we become self-centered, bitter, and at odds with God’s intent for us.

Klyne Snodgrass writes, “Why is goodness often the occasion for anger? Why do we find it so difficult to rejoice over the good that enters other people’s lives, and why do we spend our time calculating how we have been cheated?”[2] We cannot experience the fullness of God’s love as long as we are comparing ourselves with others or being envious of what others receive.

Last week, Jesus told us to stop counting how many times we must forgive someone else. This week, he teaches us to stop counting someone else’s blessings, so that we can start living into our own blessings. God’s grace isn’t something you can earn or something you deserve because you’ve been working in the vineyard since the sun came up. God’s grace is freely given to all who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who died to save us from our sins and rose so that we might have eternal life. Accepting this grace leaves no room for envy.

But envy is not limited to individuals. Whole churches have suffered from comparing their ministries to some other church that has more members, a bigger budget, a nicer building, better music, and a more dynamic preacher. Instead of concentrating on making disciples, congregations stuck in envy spend all their energy and resources trying to measure up to some other church’s standard of fruitfulness. They wonder why God hasn’t blessed their church the way God has blessed that other church. Sometimes, it isn’t another church, but “the way things used to be” that makes them jealous. They look at the denarius in their hand, and wonder why they didn’t get a bigger payback for all the work they did in the past. They become bitter, and they shake their heads as the church sinks further into decline.

But Christ calls us to make disciples, not comparisons. Instead of whining about what used to be or what some other church has, Christ calls us to work in his vineyard, for the harvest is plentiful, and the laborers are few.[3]

The Minnesota Conference of the United Methodist Church is embarking on a new initiative to reach new people for Christ, renew existing congregations, and rejoice in God’s generous goodness to us. Reach – Renew – Rejoice could be just another program, another way to institutionalize the process of making and deepening disciples. Or it could be an opportunity to revitalize our mission, refocus our energy, and see what God might do among us if we are faithful in pursuing God’s will for our congregation. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, God calls us to put down the measuring stick altogether, and do what we are gifted and called to do as workers in God’s kingdom. So let’s roll up our sleeves and head into the vineyard. We have been called to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Let’s get to work. Amen.

[1] Klyne Snodgrass, Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus, 364.

[2] Snodgrass, 378.

[3] Matthew 9:38, Luke 10:2

Making Disciples – Sermon on Matthew 28:16-20 (Trinity 2014)

When I was very young, I held a black-and-white view of truth. Right and Wrong formed two sides of the coin I called Truth. As I grew older, I discovered that many questions do not have simple answers. Shades of gray appear between the rigid extremes of black and white. So I decided that Right and Wrong might be neighboring sides on a many-faceted sphere – a Disco Ball of Truth (hey, it was the 1980s).

But that view didn’t hold up, either. Eventually, I began to realize that God’s truth often holds in tension two or more realities that seem to oppose one another. We call this “paradox.” The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Whoever would be great among you must be your servant. Christ died to conquer death. God is One, and God is Three Persons, each distinct, yet all three are One. It’s a paradox, a mystery. And we celebrate that mystery today, on Trinity Sunday.

Trinity Sunday is an unusual day in the church year, in that it is named after a doctrine instead of an event. It was a doctrine that took some hard work to hammer out, because the early church fathers had difficulty finding words to express this mystery of the faith. While we may find it difficult to understand the mystery of the Trinity, we certainly have no trouble at all experiencing it. It’s a relationship, and as much as the word “relationship” has been overused to talk about romance, there really is no better word to describe God in Three Persons. We worship and serve a relational God, a God who desires to be in loving relationship with each of us, just as Father and Son and Holy Spirit are in loving relationship with one another.

It would be easy to get stuck on Trinity Sunday trying to explain this unexplainable aspect of God’s identity, if we focused only on the one verse in the Gospel that hints at a doctrine of the Trinity. But, to be honest, at the time Matthew wrote his story, that doctrine had not yet really taken shape. And the mention of three persons in today’s passage is really only a small part of a much bigger idea. Hear Matthew’s version of the final words of Jesus to his disciples, as we find them in chapter 28, verses 16-20. Hear the Word of the Lord.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

Eleven disciples went to Galilee. Judas had not yet been replaced, and his absence was a reminder to all of them of their own betrayal, their own failure to stand by Jesus during his trial and crucifixion. They went to Galilee. This is where the ministry had begun. Earlier in Matthew’s gospel, he calls it “Galilee of the Gentiles” and this is significant, as Jesus gives his final instructions to share the good news of God’s saving grace with all people. But it’s the second verse of this passage that catches my attention: They worshiped him, but some doubted.

The Greek grammar here is not very clear. We could translate this phrase in several ways, and they would all be as valid as the NRSV. It could mean, “all worshiped, but some of them also doubted,” or “some worshiped while others doubted” or “they all worshiped, and they all doubted, too.”

Doesn’t that sound like us sometimes? Don’t we come to church so we can reinforce our faith by worshiping, because doubt seems to creep into our minds so often? Maybe doubt seems too strong a word. In fact, the term here is used only one other place in the New Testament, in the story of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:31) – he was fine as long as his eyes were fixed on Jesus, but when he looked down, he started to sink  – because he doubted.

The word used here is not an expression of disbelieving, so much as being undecided, or uncertain. The disciples were sure that Jesus was God, worthy of worship, but they weren’t sure what this was supposed to mean, or what to do with this new awareness. Isn’t that what our doubt looks like, too? We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sure, but we get stuck wondering what to do or which way to go as we try to live out our faith. We come to church to worship the God who created us, who saves us, who stays with us, and at the same time, we flounder in uncertainty. Like the disciples, we worship and we doubt.

But notice what Jesus does. He comes to the disciples, where they are, in their worship and their uncertainty. And he offers them something completely unexpected. He doesn’t say, “Oh ye of little faith.” He doesn’t reprimand them or tell them to go get their doubts figured out and come back later. He sends them, with four absolute statements, and a charge so powerful we now call it the Great Commission.

Let’s look at those four absolute – or “all” – statements, as Richard Beaton calls them, for a moment. The first establishes Jesus as the one who holds “all authority in heaven and earth,” restoring the unity of heaven and earth that was present at Creation. The second is a reminder of the promise to Abraham that all nations will be blessed through his offspring: “Go make disciples of all nations,” Jesus says. Then Jesus adds, “teach them to obey all the things I taught you,” and finally he promises to remain with his followers through all time. Christ answers our uncertainty with these certainties: All authority, among all people, with all Christ’s teaching, for all time. Christ answers our indecision with a command and a direction.

The primary task Jesus sets before his disciples – and that includes us – is disciple making. Remember in the Creation story how God said, “be fruitful and multiply?” This is the same command, only now Jesus is not talking about physical reproduction, but spiritual multiplication. All the other commands he gives in the Great Commission feed into this one thing we are to do: make disciples of Jesus Christ. Make disciples of all people, he says, by going everywhere, baptizing everyone, and teaching everything I taught you.

As a follower of Jesus, wavering between worship and indecision, my first reaction to this command is to play the theme music from “Mission Impossible” in my head while I ask, “How, Lord?!” But the answer is right there in the mission. The formula for making disciples is short and simple: go, baptize, teach. Let’s break it down a little bit.

Go to all people. When I was growing up, we recited the King James Version of the Great Commission every week in the Girls’ Auxiliary of the Women’s Missionary Union of First Southern Baptist Church. The goal was clear – we were all being called to go to Africa or South America as missionaries. Almost all of us failed at that. There may have been one or two of us who made it to Mexico for a week or two of “missions” but most of us never went to a foreign country to share the gospel. While I am certain that Jesus fully intends for some of us to go far away to introduce good news to people who have never heard it, I also am convinced that we have a mission field right here at our own doorstep. There are people in our own back yard who have never heard the good news that Jesus loves them.

According to the Mission Insite demographic study provided to us through the Minnesota Annual Conference (your apportionment dollars at work), 85% of the people living within a five-mile radius of this building do not consider it important to attend religious services. More than half of the people who live here in New Ulm do not consider themselves spiritual persons, and only about 18% think that faith is an important part of their lives. We who value our faith and participation in church are obviously in the minority. We don’t have to travel very far to make new disciples. We only need to step outside the door.

Go baptize people, Jesus says. Now, he isn’t encouraging us to see how many people we can arbitrarily get wet. There is no magic in the words, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” and the ritual of baptism itself has no saving power. When Jesus says, “baptize them in the power of this three-fold Name,” he is offering baptism as a symbol of that enfolding love we experience as members of the Body of Christ. Jesus is asking us to include, to embrace, to accept all people and welcome them into the family of God. He isn’t just talking about the people whose skin color is different from ours, he’s talking about the people whose habits and education and lifestyles are drastically different from ours. He’s talking about the poor and powerless, the sick and the hungry. Baptism is a symbol of being included, of being made a part of the whole. Just as in the sacrament of Communion we who are many partake of the one loaf, so in Baptism we who are many become one in Christ – just like the Trinity we invoke as we pour water, we are invited into the mystery of being made one, though we are many.

Go baptize people and teach them all the things I commanded you, Jesus says. This is the true meaning of the word ‘disciple’ – it means student, or intern. Just as those early disciples learned to do the things Jesus did by walking with him day after day, so we are invited into that life-changing, day-by-day walk with Jesus, doing the things Jesus did.

Theologian Dallas Willard writes, a disciple of Jesus is not necessarily one devoted to doing specifically religious things as that is usually understood.I am learning from Jesus how to lead my life, my whole life, my real life. Note, please, I am not learning from him how to lead his life. His life on earth was a transcendently wonderful one. But it has now been led. Neither I nor anyone else, even himself, will ever lead it again. … I need to be able to lead my life as he would lead it if he were I.My discipleship to Jesus is … not a matter of what I do, but of how I do it. And it covers everything, “religious” or not.

When Jesus sent out the 70 (or72) disciples ahead of him (Luke 10:1-12), their job was to heal the sick, and proclaim the good news that the Kingdom of God is at hand. They did the things they had seen Jesus do, except for one thing. Jesus was the only one who taught the people, as he followed his followers to the places they went. Jesus was the great Teacher, the Rabbi. Now, at the end of Mathew’s gospel, he sends his disciples, his interns, out to teach as well as heal and proclaim the Kingdom of God. There are no half-measures in being a Jesus Intern. Teach them to do all the things I commanded you, he says.

And what are those commands?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be a servant if you would be great. Suffer the little children to come unto me. Take care of the widows and fatherless. Spread my love around to people you don’t think deserve it, just as I have lavished my love on you, who do not deserve it. On this Father’s Day, this Trinity Sunday, let’s look at what it might mean to go, to enfold, and to teach, as we make disciples here in New Ulm.

Dr. Kara Powell has written a book called Sticky Faith, offering an approach to youth ministry that strives to keep kids connected to their faith during their teens and early twenties, when they are most likely to question, to express doubts and uncertainties about faith and the church. This approach works to connect young people with a web of at least five adults who are deeply involved in each young person’s life. That’s hard to do when youth ministry is assigned to a small handful of adults, and youth ministry activities happen away from the rest of the church. This summer, we hope to change the pattern of “out of sight, out of mind” that sometimes gets associated with our young people. This summer, we are moving youth ministry back into this building. Over the next few months, we will re-purpose the two rooms in the basement nearest the ramp door on Broadway, and turn them into a youth ministry center. This week, many of our young people gathered for a planning and brainstorming session, and they have some great ideas for making those two rooms into a welcoming spot for teenagers and young adults, a place where we can begin to enfold them into the life of the whole church.

This move will mean that the Youth Coordinator’s office space will move downstairs, freeing up a room just off the narthex for a main-level nursery. Having a nursery that is visible from the sanctuary offers a welcome to families with young children who worship with us, creating another way we can enfold new disciples into the family of God. When we look like kids matter to us, as they did to Jesus, we will be one step closer to making disciples, and being disciples.

So, then, what do we do with the house now known as the SRC? God has dropped an opportunity into our laps that I want to share with you today, and I ask you to pray diligently with me about this possibility.

Over the past few months, the pastors in our local Ministerial Association have been talking with County Social Services about needs in our community. One need that often flies under our radar is that of homeless families. We don’t think of homelessness as being a problem here, because it doesn’t look like the homelessness we see when we go prepare meals at the Simpson Shelter in Minneapolis, or take Food for Friends to Mankato. But it’s real, and it affects school age children in our community. There currently is no homeless shelter or transitional housing of any kind in our entire county. This means that, if a family becomes homeless, they must go to 30 to 75 miles away to find shelter. For school age children, this means pulling them out of school – which in some cases, is the one place they find safety and stability – and starting over in a new place in the middle of the school year. It means losing all the social connections they have built with friends and family. This can be devastating to a young child’s development. Last year, there were 16 documented homeless children at the elementary school. We have about that many kids on an average Wednesday night here at First. Think about that.

Homelessness seems like a problem that is too big for a church of our size to tackle. We don’t have the resources to run a homeless shelter, we don’t have the staff to administer such a program. But we have a house that will soon be vacant, and we have a desire to follow Christ wherever he may lead us, as we go, baptize, and teach to make disciples.

A couple of weeks ago, the director of an organization approached the ministerial association with a proposed joint project. If they could provide the counseling and case management piece of a program to help homeless single mothers get on their feet, while their kids get to stay in local schools, could we come up with a place to do that ministry together, as an ecumenical venture?

We have a house that will soon be vacant, but it needs a lot of work. We don’t have the resources to renovate it on our own.

“But there might be grant money available from United Way,” one pastor said, “and I sit on their board.”

“And there might be some resources from Lutheran Social Services,” another pastor said, “and I know who to call.”

“And we might be able to get some advice from other ecumenical groups who have done something similar,” said another pastor. “Let me do some research.”

“There is a property manager in town who might be able to help us get families settled in affordable longer-term housing, once we get them into the program,” another pastor said.

Suddenly, we had a draft of a mission statement, and some goals to help us narrow the purpose of this project. It’s still in the very formative stages, but the Trustees and the Church Council voted this last week to continue the conversation, and explore how we might use our soon-to-be-vacant house to provide ministry in cooperation with other churches here in our own backyard.

Right now, this is what the project would look like, should we decide to participate in it:

The Getting Families on their Feet Project would provide transitional housing and services for single-mother families, leading them to self- sufficiency.

Goals would be to:

-Allow children of displaced single mothers to remain with their families while staying in local schools, avoiding disruption of academic and social connections
-Provide counseling resources to single moms as they strive toward self-sufficiency
-Provide safe short-term (4-6 weeks) placement in temporary shelter/housing to establish participation in the program
-Provide safe longer-term (2-6 months) placement in transitional housing while support, counseling, and job placement continue
-Assist single-mother families in establishing self-sufficiency while allowing children to remain connected to school, friends, and family

We would start very small, maybe only a couple of families at first, to work out the bugs of the process. I emphasize that we would be working with single-mother families of school age children only. Certainly there are others who could benefit from such a project, but we want to keep it manageable, and we want to focus on helping children, who are the most vulnerable members of our community. Please pray about this, and talk to me if you have questions. The conversation will be continuing, and we have much to discern if we are to participate in such a bold venture.

Jesus claims all authority, then gives it to us, his interns, to go to all people, enfold all of them, teach all of them, making all people “Jesus Interns.” It seems like a Mission Impossible, but this mission, should you choose to accept it, carries with it a huge promise. “Look,” Jesus says, “I am with you through all time, even until eternity has reached its completion.” We do not have to do this on our own. In fact, we’d better not try to. The Holy Spirit continues Christ’s work in us and through us, until eternity is complete. Christ is with us. Amen.