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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Ordinary Sunday 14, Year C
South Sydney Uniting Church
July 7, 2019

Psalm 66; Luke 10:1-11,16-20

‘Peace be upon this house’

On Thursday night I was in Wollongong to see my football team take on the Melbourne Storm. It was raining heavily and we lost narrowly. Afterwards, I was walking from the stadium to the railway station. Suddenly, I realised I was on my own – the other fans had disappeared into the carpark – and not really sure I was heading in the right direction. I stopped, looked around, explored a side street, came back out. I may have been on Burelli Street but there was no sign I could see. Then a lone figure in a yellow poncho. “Station?” I asked. And he said, “Yes, just up ahead.” God be with you

I hadn’t even considered the danger of walking on my own in the dark. It was late by this stage, too. I did appreciate the friendliness of this stranger, though. Mike. You can be blessed to meet a Mike. A traveling companion, a trustworthy guide.

Once safely aboard the northbound train, I met John, who had known Mike for many years. We sat together and talked football and family.

There are connections we can make to the gospel. Firstly, a basic wisdom. Jesus sends out the 72, two by two – partners in ministry, partners in discovery, partners in faith. Proclaim peace/shalom/right relationship wherever you go.

Traveling with a friend is usually a good idea. I give thanks for Mike and hope to see him again. I give thanks for trustworthy companions, mentors, teachers, helpers, carers. Who have been the important partners for you in your life? Who have been the important partners in ministry, in discovery, in your life of faith? What has made them so important? …

Later, waiting for a connecting train at Helensburgh, I was especially glad to have Mike and John for companions. There was another group on the platform, a little loud and aggressive, still angry about the game (matching football supporter gear is not always a reliable indicator of character). Expect hostility and rejection (of peace), Jesus tells his disciples. And yet, proclaim peace/shalom/right relationship wherever you go.

Instead of “Peace be upon this house”, what might we say today? Is this still a good way to communicate solidarity, compassion, hope? On the street, in the rain, on a train platform, on the occasion of visiting people in their home, what might we say to communicate hope? ...

Accept the gifts of those who welcome you, Jesus says. In this Spirit of hospitality much can be accomplished. Sounds easy, perhaps. Accept the gifts of those who welcome you.

Mike, it turned out, had difficulty reading, perhaps a disability. John assured him, more than once, that he was on track to catch his connecting train from Wolli Creek to Campbelltown.

Jesus invites me to accept what another offers me – what someone is able to offer. It’s a good place to start with regard to any relationship. To accept what another is able to offer, rather than demanding what another is unwilling or unable to give, resenting that I do not receive from another what I want.

When we begin in such vulnerable openness, the tendency is to affirm the good that is given, rather than to resent what is not given or that which is withheld. Stubborn arrogance gives way to vulnerable openness. And once there is affirmation, there is every chance that grace will work a transformation. 

We might paraphrase what Jesus says to his disciples. Don’t worry about being successful (moving from place to place, seeking social advancement) so much as sharing a vision of change and freedom in a way that means real participation, here and now, addressing urgent needs.

One commentator writes: The gospel is about “people who love because of the influence of Jesus joining others who love” (Bill Loader) – people who really care recognising others who really care. In this daring Spirit much will be accomplished.

Travel light, Jesus says. Live simply, Jesus says. How simply ought we live? How simply ought we proclaim the gospel? What over-complicates genuine encounter with others and what distracts us from addressing urgent needs in the community? …

The 72 disciples returned with joy, saying, “Rabbi, even the demons obey us in your name!” … Jesus said: “[D]on’t rejoice in the fact that the spirits obey you so much as that your names are inscribed in heaven.”

We are inscribed in holiness, our names within the divine Name, in the very mission of God whose being is love. We are called to encourage and ennoble, to make beautiful and to dignify – to receive the same from others, all good gifts of the Spirit.

The theme for NAIDOC Week this year is Voice, Treaty, Truth. In short, we will never become the nation or church we are meant to be apart from the wisdom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their cultures and stories of encounter with new cultures.

I’m thinking of the Bangarra dance company, Natalie Harkin, Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, Mandawuy Yunupingu and Dr G, Albert and Vincent Namatjira, Emily Kngwarreye, Sally Gabori, Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie … I’m thinking of Charles and Rachel Perkins, Mum Shirl, Diane Torrens, Pearl Wymarra, the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, Jill Gallagher, Mick Dodson, Norma Ingram and the Elders who crafted the Uluru Statement from the Heart …

There is something unique and profoundly spiritual when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people engage the mission of God. It is faith-filled, inspiring, healing and vulnerable. There is a genuine openness to the creativity and power of the Spirit. Through story, song, art and drama, hospitality, resistance and hope …

On the street, in the rain, on a train platform, on the occasion of acknowledging Indigenous people in their home country, what might we ask them regarding hope? ... Amen.