At the start of our service today I said that the theme of our service is Travelling Light. And we’re going to think a bit more about that now. But to get us started here’s a joke for the scientists among you.
A photon walked into a hotel and asked, “Can I have a room for the night?”
“Certainly, sir,” said the man behind the desk, “Do you have any luggage?”
“No,” said the photon, “I’m travelling light!”
If you’re not a scientist, and don’t understand the joke, it might help you to know that a photon is an elementary particle which is the quantum of the electromagnetic field and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force – it has no mass and travels at the speed of light. Or it might not!
Today we’re thinking about travelling light.
The problem with the weather in this country is that you can never be quite sure what’s going to happen.
Yesterday, I looked on my phone to see what next Saturday’s weather would be. And just to be sure I made sure I got a second – and third – opinion. The problem is that one weather app said it was going to be cloudy, wet, and about the same temperature as today. While another said it would be dry, and much warmer with sunny intervals.
The British weather is so changeable – we never know quite what it’s going to be. And even with today’s highly sophisticated forecasting, there are different promises of what the weather is going to be just a few days ahead.
A bit of a problem if you want a family day out in the open somewhere. Or spend a few days camping. What do you take with you? Umbrella – or sunscreen? Waterproofs – or sunhat and sunglasses? Flask of coffee in case it’s cold? Or mineral water in case it’s hot? Or do you just go down the extra-cautious route and pack everything you need to allow for any eventuality?
Always good to be prepared for all eventualities isn’t it. We want to prepare for all eventualities. It’s only natural to plan ahead for a trip out. Isn’t it?
Except Jesus urges us to travel light!
Today in our gospel reading we hear how Jesus sends out his disciples to do his work. And we hear how he tells them what they need for their journey – which is basically hardly anything! None of the stuff that you’d normally take with you when going on a journey. Mark tells us:
He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.
So – no food, no money to buy food, no change of clothing. The twelve were simply sent and told to get on with the work of mission – the work that Jesus sent them to do. They were to travel light.
So – no baggage, nothing to weight them down, but they went in pairs because then they would have friendship and support from each other on their journey. And Jesus told them to proclaim that all people should repent, that is turn around from their sinful ways of living and follow the way of Jesus. And he told them to heal people. He was relying on them to do his work – with six pairs of disciples at it his message would be spread so much more effectively and widely.
We all know, of course, that today Jesus relies on us to do the same. As his followers he asks us to tell other people about him, and to explain to them how he forgives sins, and how he offers us a new way of life that lasts forever. He asks us to show his healing at work in the world, by bringing new life and wholeness and justice to people through action – positive action in our community that makes a difference to people’s lives. This is the journey he sends us on, just as he sent the twelve disciples in our gospel reading – spreading the good news through word and action.
And – just like then – Jesus urges us to travel light! The problem is that we don’t travel light!
We are called to follow Jesus! We are called by him to do his work, just as he called the twelve disciples! But we start coming up with all kinds of reasons and excuses, we spend so long getting ready before we do anything, We are so careful to make sure that we have covered every eventuality that might arise,
that we end up getting nowhere. And we always seem to want to ask lots of questions before we start following where he leads us.
When Jesus sent out the twelve, and told them to go and do his work, off they went. They didn’t hang around before they went asking lots of questions – Jesus sends them and off they go, travelling light.
But here is a question to finish with! Jesus us calls us to follow him, but what does he want us to bring with us so that we can follow him properly?
We don’t need anything else. No baggage! The suitcase, the rucksack, should be empty! When we go on our journey with Jesus we don’t need to prepare ourselves for all eventualities. We don’t need to worry about what we need for the journey. That’s his job. Jesus knows what each of us needs, Jesus makes provision for our journey, and Jesus will do all the worrying for us.
Of course, we naturally want to be prepared for all eventualities, but we really do need to trust Jesus as the disciples did. Jesus doesn’t promise that when we follow him, when we set out on our journey of faith, all will be plain sailing. It certainly wasn’t for the twelve disciples – Jesus warns them that there are going to be places where they are not welcome. But he still sends them out in pairs to do his work. They trusted him and their work for Jesus bore fruit.
He sends us out as well – and like them he tells us to travel light and simply asks us to believe in him! To trust in him!
To have FAITH. Which, as you may remember I told you just a few weeks ago, stands for:
Forsaking all – get rid of all the baggage that holds you back – travel light when you follow Jesus and trust him to look after you. If we can do that, then like the twelve disciples we can go out and do great things for Jesus.