Matthew 26 19-20 is the end of the beginning. It closes the gospel, like every good sermon, with what to do next.
Go & Make: This command is given in such a way that it can be read wrong (and often has been). We have the authority of God not to “make” disciples by force–and as a white, Western European, cis woman I have to remember and confess my imperial tendencies. It is not conquer and force, it is go and make. Go from the places you are comfortable with, go from your homes, go from what you know, go!. Make, not as in force, but as a creative act. Jesus gives us authority similar to the authority given to humanity in Genesis. Our God is a creative and communal God. God made room in Godself to be in fellowship, and created all kinds of being to be in communication and communion with. Make disciples, create discipleship–of all kinds, all nations, all places. As we stand here, in the middle of a momentous shift in Church, how are we creating/building up/opening up discipleship?
Baptize: Be generous in your dunking. Jesus does not say only baptize people who look and think like you. In fact Jesus puts no boundaries on baptism. Baptism is the beginning of creating more disciples. It is the the overflow of grace dripping upon humanity. Splash the baptism around, how can we baptize people? Do we take this seriously as our primary call for discipleship? What prevents baptism.
Teach: Again the word is teach not force. Teaching is hard. Ask any teacher who is teaching virtually, ask any parent who is homeschooling. We, the church, are responsible for teaching: coaxing curiosity. In the PCUSA we would say we do this through energy, imagination, intelligence and love. One cannot teach someone who is not ready to learn. Yes, we should teach Jesus’ commandments: love one another comes to mind as big one, love your neighbor, love your enemy, love yourself, serve one another. Jesus commands, but we are only teachers. We teach God’s love, we teach how to love, we teach where to love, we teach what it is. We coax it, we imagine it, we model it (hopefully), we play it.
So much is contained within the last words of Christ. And the authority, the permission, to love one another, is paramount to being the people of God. We are given authority by the author. We are given creativity from the creator.
In Genesis 1 is a very familiar text. God orders the world. Taking the chaos creating time and spaces and life. God making order out the morass is comforting, and kind of ironic as Pentecost seems to be the disorganizing of the world. Negating our human structures of time and power and language and culture, Pentecost (excuse the pun) throws things to the wind. The divisions, briefly do not exist.
I like to think that Pentecost is a moment when God spills out, and God cannot be contained. we have trouble with this fact, but I also find it so full of hope. God cannot be contained.
2 Corinthians 13 closes with a plea for peace. One could preach an entire sermon on what greet one another with holy kiss means in the midst of a global pandemic. However, for me the concept of peace in its Hebrew meaning of Shalom, which also carries with it the requirement for wholeness and healing, is so touching from Paul who is dealing time and time again with his squabbling church members. I too am begging for peace, but not the peace of silence or nicety or complicity, but the peace of wholeness where we heal one another’s wounds.
As you contemplate the texts this week what speaks to you about baptism, discipleship, creation or peace? Is the Holy Spirit tugging you in a different direction?
Katy Stenta is a solo pastor at a tiny church that is bigger on the inside in Albany, NY for over eight years and blogs at firstname.lastname@example.org She is also the co-founder of the fledgling TrailPraisers inclusive Worship. When she is not dreaming up projects and ideas, some of which creep into the church, she plays with her three boys-boys or goes and visits her husband at the library, while he works, to read.
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