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Last week we crossed the Rubicon where Jesus was leading us to spiritual resolution and revolution, hopeful futures, and transformational change. Well, this week, our Gospel reading is from Luke 10, and instead of following Jesus, Jesus tells us to go first! Really?
Jesus did amazing things. He showed people the way, spoke the truth, and gave life. But there comes a time when disciples have to go out on their own. Like our campus’ eagles, George and Adele, who forced their eaglets, Elliot and Eloise, out of the nest so they could achieve their potential and take responsibility for their own future!
Similarly, Jesus sent an advance team of 72, ordinary people in need of the kindness of strangers, yet given the authority to heal and cast out spirits, a power made known to those who welcome them and provide for their needs. The Jesus way requires trust on the part of those going and those to whom the disciples are sent to produce a plentiful harvest to be gathered, shared and used to feed the world, physically and spiritually.
Maybe you’re like me, feeling a bit overwhelmed when my grandkids wanted me to go on the Buccaneer Pirate Ride. Whoa! Did I want to go first? No way. But, I knew it was important to them, and also to me. Wow! Going first can be scary sometimes, but God sends us ahead with the promise of a harvest of goodness, if we don’t give up! What a ride!!
We may think: wouldn’t it have been better for Jesus to go first and for us to follow? Wouldn’t Jesus going first offer a greater display of power get people’s attention and move the story of redemption forward with greater speed and efficiency? Apparently, no. All of us have been sent ahead. Are you ready to go first? Jesus is.
One way to “go first” is to invite someone with you to worship this week. It’s time to leave the nest! Get up and go!
Do you know what an Advance Team is? When an important plan is underway, like when the President of the United States has to visit, a team of people, an advance team, is sent first to prepare, check it out, bring back information, and be sure its secure for the president’s visit. Let’s experience being on an advance team together. Would you enjoy that? OK! Are you ready? Pay careful attention to the directions, and up in the balcony, you will find a yellow bag. (More details are given you will hear in the message.) Before I send you, let’s pray and ask God to help you. (Prayer.) (Returning with the yellow bag!) Great job. Enjoy the treats in the bag. Choose your favorite! And remember, God has an advance team. You know who that is, right? Yes! You! Now go, listen to Jesus’ word, and enjoy your discovery every day!
The Rubicon river in Italy is not large, but it holds a huge place in history. You have heard the phrase, “Crossing the Rubicon,” which means to pass a point of no return. It refers to Julius Caesar’s armies crossing of the river in 49 BC which was a dangerous, revolutionary act! There was no going back for Caesar once he was on the other side.
All of us must “Cross the Rubicon” of faith, too. That’s because the decision to put Christ first in one’s life is also a revolutionary act! Following Jesus is not a religious sentiment, a mere credal affirmation. Following Jesus means we go where Jesus goes. Act like Jesus acts. And we are empowered to live our very best selves, empowered to transformational change inside and out. And since our following, while definite, is often side-tracked, God asks us to cross the Rubicon again and again throughout our lives.
When we cross the Rubicon, a revolution is begun and our perspective changes. We see things from a changed vantage point. We stand in a new place, and step off in a new direction. Jesus was constantly inviting his followers to embrace paradigm shifts. Sure, its uncomfortable. Scary at times. Uncertainty, fear, and dread (and it can sometimes feel this way!) are never fun! But we demonstrate our trust and love of God when we decide to follow Jesus with opened eyes, in a spiritually open and intellectually honest way, and embrace God’s emerging future. The future is now. Today. Tomorrow. And beyond. If following Jesus doesn’t feel like an adventure to you, maybe your feet are still in the river?
When is the last time you sat down for 30 minutes, relaxed enough to reflect about your life, your life’s mission? You might be surprised what God speaks to you concerning some needed shifts in thinking or urging courage to put your faith into practice.
The early disciples “Crossed the Rubicon” but still stumbled. They didn’t get Jesus’ message about cross-cultural engagement, love, respect, and living a life of mercy, forgiveness, and hope.
They didn’t get Jesus’ insistence that His kingdom was not of this world, but that kingdom must manifest itself in the world. They were looking for a Messiah that would kick the Romans out of town, but what Jesus wanted was his disciples to help transform the town in Jesus’ name.
This Sunday let’s meet Jesus at the “Rubicon” of our lives because when we decide to follow Jesus, A revolution is begin.
This week we celebrate the 4th of July. Do you know why? Because somebody started a revolution! A group of women and men got together not far from here in Philadelphia and made a decision to change who the nation followed. Instead of England, and King George, they decided to follow God’s guiding principles they learned in the Bible and govern themselves. It was a revolution! A revolution occurs when a decision is made to totally change things for the better. Jesus was a evolutionary,, too. When we follow Jesus, he changes things. Let’s remember this 4th of July that once the revolution starts, it keeps on going. Enjoy the light-up foam flag sticks! Every July 4, we celebrate that revolution. And every day, we celebrate The life-giving revolution Jesus calls us to as we follow him.
About the Pastor
The Rev. Dr. Kevin Yoho is a minister member of West Jersey Presbytery, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He began in September 2016 serving Cold Spring Church in a part-time, interim role as Transformation Pastor. His mission is to resource the leadership and congregation to clarify its mission, reconnect to the community at large, and improve the growth and vitality of the church. Kevin’s life mission is building hopeful and healthy communities using the lens of theology, technology, and transportation. (You can listen to Kevin’s messages, and read Kevin’s blog at www.reciprocalrevo.com.)
Kevin’s new book on community and congregational transformation, Crayons for the City- Reneighboring Communities of Faith to Rebuild Neighborhoods of Hope, was recently published by Wipf & Stock’s Cascade Books. More information can be found at the Amazon Page link: http://amzn.to/2z8timg.
Dr. Yoho Kevin served more than nine years as the executive (General Presbyter) of Newark Presbytery (NJ), a regional council of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Prior to his call to Newark in 2006, Dr. Yoho served 23 years in parish ministry as a pastor. As a mission specialist, he offers transformative leadership in community building.
Kevin serves on the faculty of both Drexel University, teaching in the Goodwin College for Nonprofit Professional Studies, and City Vision University. He is an instructional designer and teaches Strategic Planning for Nonprofits, Social Entrepreneurship, Introduction to Youth Ministry, Leadership and Management, Organizational Systems, Technology, Life Balance, and Addiction, and Vocation and Calling: Theology of Work.
Dr. Yoho is a graduate of Washington Bible College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 1999, he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree with honors of distinction for his thesis project on church and community transformation, Revitalizing the Local Church for Mission.
Dr. Yoho is married to the love of his life, Dr. Melissa Arnott, EdD LPC LCADC, and they enjoy their family and neighbors making their home in Ocean City, New Jersey.
Cold Spring Church
780 Seashore Road
Cold Spring, NJ 08204 USA