Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

January 29, 2009 The Twelve

READ: Matthew 10:1-15
1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.
2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;
4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans,
6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And proclaim as you go, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.
9 Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts,
10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.
11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.
12 As you enter the house, greet it.
13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.
14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.
15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Footnote to yesterday's entry: It appears that it isn't just ONE wave that's about to roll over me. If Jesus gives authority to his disciples to heal just as he does, then anyone who wants their walk with God to be tidy and placid has another thing coming.

That having been said, I think one of the most untidy things Jesus did was in sending out the twelve the way he did. Have you ever been in a 3-legged race? It is the closest you'll probably ever come to understanding what oxen go through every day. Jesus wasn't just trying to see to the disciples' safety. He knew what they couldn't at that time but what the Apostle Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." Jesus knew that alone the disciples would flounder.

In the church we need companions at our side to encourage us, to keep us from danger, to remind us of what the Word of God teaches. I spent 25 years in youth ministry, and with each successive group of young people I would say, "partner with this one. He/she is your life-line in the faith." But the number of times any of them actually did it I could count on one hand. Why? Because of the way we tend to structure our relationships. We "get" the idea of a mentor. That's someone older who is showing us the ropes. But a partner at our side? Someone who will do... what? I don't want my brother or sister to be an intentional teacher to me. That puts them "above" me in the mythic food-chain we're all so afraid of. What I really want is a buddy. I want a friend who will be particularly 'with' me.

I can't speak from a woman's perspective about this, but boys learn this around middle school age, and for a time they will have their friend. But the warrior at my side, the brother who has my back guarded and in whom I confide (albeit across the work bench in the shop or when out hunting or at a bar) is a rare thing for men over 20. We put all our eggs in the one basket of our girlfriend or wife, and then family priorities take the place of really engaging in the battle for Christ. But her place and our family's place in our life is very different from what I'm describing. And I don't believe the two need to be mutually exclusive. Our Western construct is that of a fortress-home. Each of us has his/her castle and stays mostly behind the walls of that one building. Not so in an agrarian or subsistence culture.

A friend of mine (he's an elder in our church) is putting in a den at our new house. This morning he showed up with a buddy of his and they've been happily working together all morning. I don't think he's paying the friend. But that's the way it seems to work here. Now, if only I can get them to talk about the Lord while they work...

Jon

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