Sermon: Set Your Watch for 10:02
Scripture: Luke 10:1-11
Preacher: Patrick H. Wrisley, D.Min.
Location: First Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale,FL
Date: July 7, 2019
Last week, Pastor Nic had us look at Luke 9 where we saw Jesus going through Samaritan towns who were not receiving him so well. Nic highlighted that when we choose to align our lives to Jesus and say we will follow him, that it requires more than a tacit nodding of one’s mental approval for doing so; indeed, we heard how when Jesus says, “Follow me,” it will require you and me to readjust our relationships and our values by placing them into secondary placement to the call of God on our lives. That’s hard stuff to hear and even more difficult to put into practice.
At this point in the Story, Jesus has turned his face to Jerusalem and realizes time is growing short. So today, we have him sending out 35 advance teams to head out to villages he has yet to visit but plans to on his way to Jerusalem. This is where we pick up in the text today.
After 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.’
I love how the lectionary text intersects with today’s events at worship. Today we celebrate holy communion where we taste and experience the sacrifice the inauguration of the Kingdom of God demanded. It’s a text that accentuates the missional call placed upon our church as today we install our new pastor for Congregational Care, Pamela Masten. And finally, I love how our text opens with Jesus using a metaphor that our new pastor for congregational care can relate with as a farmer’s daughter from upstate New York!
Harvest time on a farm. You’re up before sunrise and momma’s cooked a big breakfast for everyone before they go out and begin their work. The days are full and long because you are racing against the fleeting hours of the day with good sunlight to harvest the crop. You are also racing against the reality that there is only a limited time you can harvest the produce of the farm before the crops and grain begin to rot. There is a sense of intentionality at harvest time. The quiet long days of growing are over; there’s work to do and there’s only so much time to get it done. Harvest time is a busy time when everyone has his or her part on the farm to get the crop in on time.
In our Story today, we see the ebb and flow of God’s grace and our participation in it. We are reminded that our job as disciples is not to prepare the harvest as that is God’s sole responsibility. Our job is to physically, personally, intentionally respond to that graceful giftedness of God and gather the harvest in and to pray that others will come and join us in this critical time and labor in the fields bringing the crops in before they rot.
So today Jesus is letting us know that it’s harvest time for the Church. Today we are gathered around the Table Jesus has prepared and he is giving us our job duties for the day (i.e. go harvest and pray for more laborers for the harvest) It’s at this point that Jesus gives us some advice before we hit the fields. As we eat from his Table, we are hearing words of Truth and advice from the Farmer himself. What does Jesus tell us gathered around his Table?
Beloved, you’re going to be exposed and vulnerable. You are going out into a world that will be hostile to the message and way of life you are demonstrating. The news of the Kingdom of God will butt up against the kingdoms, the values, and the mores of this world and in response lions of the world will try to bring you down and silence you (verse 3).
Yet, the Farmer also tells us at the Table in verse 4, “Beloved, take heart and trust God completely.” Travel light with the bare necessities. You don’t need a lot of stuff to harvest; you only need to trust God.
Jesus, the Sower, tells us at the Table to travel with single-minded focus (vs. 4b). Don’t dilly-dally on the way as the crops are ready for harvest now…not next week or next month but now! He cautions us there will be distractions along our way from the Table to the field and we are to keep our focus.
Furthermore, Jesus tells us from the Table that we are to go into the fields with words and spirits of peacefulness that will stand in stark contrast to the world of angst and darkness in the world today (v. 5). He says that while out harvesting, we show others that it’s okay to live simply. Living within the Kingdom of God means being content with who we are, where we are and with who God is and what God expects (v. 8).
One of the greatest challenges in US Christian congregations today is that we are full of consumers of the spiritual fruit and produce and that there are not enough willing laborers in the church to go out and bring in the harvest. We sit and wait to be served the fruits from the labors of others when our call is to be day-laborers in the Kingdom gathering in the crops today ourselves.
Friends, it’s a temptation to look at our text today and focus on the fruit “out there” which has been the traditional way of looking at this Story. I want to remind us that as we gather at this Table, as we install this new pastor for congregational care, we need to remember this text is a demand on us a church first before it’s a mandate on bringing others to faith. Emphatically, Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to give us laborers for the harvest. In other words, we are to pray that like members of a family farm, we are to pray that everyone in the family gets their fanny out of bed and helps out. Harvesting requires everyone not just a few. Everyone on the farm has his or her part whether it’s harvesting, gleaning, or storing. Others prepare the mid-day meal and evening suppers for the laborers while the others are in the field sweating and getting covered with manure-infused soil. The deal is everyone is involved in the harvest time. It’s intentional. It’s focused. Everyone has her or his part.
Church, our text today demands we get off the porch rocker and into the rhythmic dance of the harvest. All of us have a job to do. The Church and her neighborhoods are a farm that needs harvesters not consumers.
Pamela, as you take your place among this farm, your call is to help gather members of this church together to teach them, love them, to become fruitful harvesters of compassionate grace among this community and in our surrounding area. We do not expect you to carry the full weight of caring for the members of this church but we do expect you to rally us together, model for us, and teach us how to be the caring presence of Jesus to each other. Use your farm-girl experience and teach us how to harvest!
In just a moment, we will share in the meal of holy communion and as we prepare for it, I have something for you to do while you wait to be served. But first a story.
Some years ago I met a retired Presbyterian pastor and in the midst of our conversation, his watch alarm begins to chime. He says, “Excuse me,” as he looks down and presses a button and then looks at me and smiles. I quickly asked him, “Do you need to go! I didn’t mean to keep you!” and he replies, “Oh, no. It’s 10:02.” I gave him a doggie-head tilt look and he said, “It’s my reminder to pray for laborers of the harvest. In Luke 10.2, Jesus tells us the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few; therefore, we are to pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send out laborers into the harvest.”
Beloved, as you wait to be served, take a moment and do two things. First, ask yourself if you are a Church and spiritual consumer or are you a harvester? Second, take a moment and set your phones or watches to sound a chime at 10:02 to remind you who you are and what God needs you to do – go labor in His vineyard!! So be it. Amen.
Patrick H. Wrisley, D.MinSenior Pastor & Teaching ElderFirst Presbyterian Church401 SE 15 AvenueFort Lauderdale, FL 33301
© 2019 Patrick H. Wrisley. Sermon manuscripts are available for the edification of members and friends of First Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and may not be altered, re-purposed, published or preached without permission. All rights reserved.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
David Lose, Feasting on the Word.
Harland Mirriam, Presbyterian pastor and Chaplain, US Army (RET).