10After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you;9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. 13“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. 16“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
17The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
This is one of my favourite readings but not for the reason you might think.. For me the thing I carry with me from this reading is if they do not welcome you, shake the dust from your feet and move on.. God will deal with it.. There are others who need to hear.
For Luke this was one of the first big send outs, 70 people sent out in pairs called to an exercise in trust. There is a real duality here, both the joys of being accepted but the reality of being lambs amongst the wolves.. Jesus never said it would be easy, but he did say it was necessary.. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
I was thinking about how often when we are on our journey we miss those grains of wheat as we are on our way because we can get so focused on where it is we need to go.
One of the things I noticed in this reading as I was drawing was the how do you know that you are accepted? Or that people want to hear what you have to say? The thing that came out was the act of hospitality.. The act of offering food and somewhere to stay. Sometimes I think we have forgotten about hospitality as one of the gifts of God. We assume it means getting the house all cleaned up and having everyone dressed in their finest clothes, preparing a lavish 3 coarse meal.. Hospitality here, the sign of the openness to God’s presence is about opening our house and self up to God and who God sends as we are, with what we have. It is not about the perfect gift for the guest, it is the gift of vulnerability. I am amazed at how often God moves in amazing ways when I have the courage to do this.
But there is a second side to this as well.. It’s not just about offering the food but accepting the gift that is offered.. Not just heading off to the next house to see if the food is better.. A great exercise in eating humble pie! It is about remembering the privilege it is to be welcomed into another’s home and the gift that is offered, the best of that person at that time and remembering the cost to them. Who is it that offers hospitality to you? Who would you like to offer hospitality but not sure you will be “good enough” for? Be brave and courageous, step out in faith!! Journey well my friends!