Readings: Luke 1:68-79; Malachi 4:1-6; Luke 9:1-6

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Luke 9:1-6, NRSV

Compared to most of the people in line to board an early morning flight to Pittsburgh, my son and I travelled light – just a small duffel and a backpack with the essentials for a two day stay. Everyone else had those things plus computers, rolling carry-ons, briefcases, and oversized purses/beach bags. Who knows what checked baggage each traveller dragged along. We were in our seats and settled in under a minute while others were still settling in well after takeoff. Most of them missed the sight of Boston falling away in the early morning light, with stars still visible on the horizon. The same was true when the plane landed: people were so busy collecting belongings and checking devices that they didn’t see the glorious sunrise that began the day. Carrying baggage may be necessary for travel, but it takes attention away from the unexpected magnificence each day can bring. 

 I am easily distracted by baggage, and when combined with my tendency to stick to a pre-arranged schedule it can bring on a blindness to whatever and whomever is around me. Trying to get all my ducks in a row might be industrious, but is that really the point of the journey? I think that’s why Jesus sent the disciples on their way carrying nothing – they had nothing to distract them and no way to avoid engaging with the people they were sent to serve. He isn’t asking them to be irresponsible, just insuring that they will be responsive.

As for the “shake the dust off your feet,” I think that’s less of a testimony against the inhospitality of others as it is sound advice for letting go of the past rather than dragging it along as a new piece of baggage…

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

[Photo by Jared Fredrickson]

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