Collect for 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
with a generous hand you sow the seeds of the Kingdom.
Grant us the grace to cultivate your saplings,
that all might find shade in the forest of love.
All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Readings for 11 Sunday in Ordinary Time ("related")
These verses set out the special relationship between God and Israel. That relationship lies behind the restriction Jesus places on his commission to the twelve in the gospel reading below.
This psalm does not need to be explained. It needs to be sung! Perhaps in response to reading Romans 5:1-8.
Paul begins this chapter with "Therefore" which compels us to look back to what he has been saying in the previous chapter or chapters. Effectively those chapters are summed up in the phrase "we are justified by faith" (1) (note 4:22-25). So, Paul says, since this is true, therefore "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1). In a new, healed relationship with God "we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast of our hope of sharing in the glory of God" (2). In other words, Paul having charted the path to salvation in Romans 1-4 now begins to tackle the question of what salvation means and what the saved can expect in this life. We the saved are in a new, wonderful relationship with God, beginning to experience the blessing of God, though its fullest experience is yet to come.
In the meantime, we will experience sufferings and Paul reflects on what that means (3-5).
Then, Paul, perhaps with his mind full of how we came to be saved, reverts to the theme of chapters 1-4 and again, but more briefly, rehearses the gospel story of how Jesus died for us, as proof of God's love towards us (6-8).
We have much to be thankful for!
Well, after the special interests of Eastertide, Pentecost and Trinity Sundays, what better thing to do as we corporately read the Scriptures than to get down to brass tacks in the mission of God, in which we are graciously invited to participate.
In this reading, Jesus goes out in mission (9:35-38), and that means Matthew is telling us about it as an example for us, not just as a bit of "history of mission."
What do we learn?
1. The mission of Jesus was extensive, going everywhere in Israel.
2. The mission was in word and in deed.
3. The mission was motivated by compassion.
4. The need for the mission was great but missioners were in short supply. Prayer to God for supply was required.
We then find the mission of Jesus is extended - as though answering the need addressed in v. 37-38 - to include "the twelve" (10:1-8).
Their mission is pretty similar to Jesus', a mission in God's name of word and of deed (7-8). But they are not Jesus so they need "authority" in order to beat the power of the evil one as "unclean spirits" do their damage in the world (1). Authority "over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and sickness" (1) is, of course, nothing less than divine authority, the authority of God now invested in them.
As Matthew tells the story of the commissioning of the twelve for mission he uses the narrative to also tell us their names (2-4). Don't miss the fact that he describes them in this context as "apostles", that is, as "sent ones" or "missioners." Later the church will look back on the twelve as "The Twelve Apostles" with potential to make "apostle" mean "senior leader." The twelve were the senior leaders in the early church but primarily they were commissioned for mission and not for leadership.
A challenge for us as readers lies in two places:
1. Verses 5-6 where the mission is narrowly focused on Israel and "not Gentiles, not Samaritans" though they were near at hand. Why wasn't Jesus more, well, inclusive? Over the whole of Matthew's Gospel (e.g. noting 28:16-20) we see a vision unfolding for an inclusive mission to the whole world. Here, perhaps, we might think of Matthew reporting to us that Jesus had concern for the Jews as the special people of God, the ones first called through Abraham and Moses into covenant relationship. Many Jews had lost their way before God. They are now called back to God before the mission extends to the Gentiles and to the Samaritans.
2. (if we extend our investigation from v. 8 to vss. 8-10, or vss. 8-15) This mission of Jesus is to be conducted with minimal resources (i.e. nothing), no pay, and a huge faith in God's provision (e.g. via hospitality (11-12). What does this mean in our day?
Readings for Te Pouhere Sunday (resources for Te Pouhere Sunday at www.anglican.org.nz/Resources/Lectionary-and-Worship )
2 Corinthians 5:14-19 or Acts 10:34-43
John 15:9-17 or Matthew 7:24-29 or Luke 6:46-49 or John 17:6-26
Te Pouhere Sunday is our collective opportunity in ACANZP to reflect on what it means to be "this church" rather than any other church (noting that no church in the South Pacific has a constitution - Te Pouhere - such as ours which attempts to share the power and authority of episcopal leadership and synodical governance in a manner which is equalised between three tikanga within our church, Maori, Pakeha and Pasefika.
One reflection could be that Te Pouhere is our way of imitating the Trinity as a community of love between the Three Persons of the Godhead.
We could critically reflect on our life together: are we any reasonable kind of imitation of the Trinity? What could we change to better be what we seek to be?
We could thankfully reflect on our life together: for all that is good about our way of being church, let us give thanks to God (even as we simultaneously lament our shortcomings and repent of our mistakes).
We could prayerfully reflect on our life together: for all that is yet to be done, let us pray for God's wisdom and strength; for all that we do not yet understand, about God and about ourselves (in our difference and in our diversity), let us pray for knowledge; for resolve to be united in our diversity and to foster diversity in our unity, let us pray for courage and faithfulness.