Leaving It All Behind

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

We come into the world naked and without possessions; when we die, we take nothing with us. In between, we collect clothes and forks and skills. We settle into houses or apartments, learn to read and cook, and join our families and friends in this shared adventure called life. How easy would it be for us to leave it all behind, trusting the journey and the people we’ll meet on it, taking only companions by our sides and prayers in our hearts?

We don’t choose where we begin life. We enter and stay in whatever family we happen to be born into, and we leave childhood behind from there. If we’ve been blessed with adequate food, clothing, shelter, and a family who loves us well, we don’t carry much emotional baggage. If we’ve been without adequate food, clothing, shelter, or have a family who loves us in damaging ways, we carry the burden of pain with us wherever we go.

Jesus knew what burdens his twelve disciples carried, both small and large: insecurity, mistrust, grief, hatred, and fear. Before sending them out into the great big world, he gave them the best travel advice: don’t take anything that weighs you down. Travel lightly so your attention is on who and where you are, not on your luggage. Stay wherever you are welcome. When you aren’t welcome, leave that awful feeling behind you. 

I don’t think shaking the dust off our feet is so much a testimony against those who rejected us as much as it is a symbol of our firm belief that rejection is never the last word. Welcome awaits in other homes in this life, and in the Kingdom of God in the next. This is true, no matter where we start out, and such good news has the power to heal.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

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