Sent From the Harbor 5-7-17

Matthew 10

To See a video of this sermon, click here

Matthew 10:1-6, 24-31 “Sent from  the Harbor” Confirmation Joins 5/7/17 LMPC Dr. Sloan

    Yesterday at the Kentucky Derby one of the horses started bucking like a wild bronco right out of the starting gate- Thunder Snow. Now it is one thing to enter into the starting gates- its another to get out on the race track.  It is risky to get out there. Yet the horse owners, the jockey, the crowd- even the horse doesn’t want to stay in the starting gate forever.   Jesus didn’t want his disciples to stay in Jerusalem.  He wants us out of the starting gates. 
    A ship in harbor is safe—but that is not what ships are made for.  One of the symbols that we have in our sanctuary is a ship.  It is a symbol of the Christian journey.  At baptism the ship is dedicated and leaves the land.  At confirmation the ship is leaving the harbor.  At graduation- in our culture- the ship leaves the harbor and heads out to open seas and new lands.  The Christian life is like a ship- that is designed not just to sail, but to bring good news wherever it goes.  Each ship is different, but for Christians, we recognize we do not own the ship- God is the Maker and the owner.  So we want to listen to see where He wants us to go. He sends us- with a purpose.  We are not rudderless, and it does matter where we go In life.  We are not our own we have been bought with a price- therefore wherever we go- we go with/for God.
    This passage starts off with a passenger manifest- a list of the first people sent out by Christ.  The Bible says, “He who honors me, I will honor.”  There is a reason there are long lists of names in the Bible- including the list of the twelve in the passage we just read.
    Today we remember our baptisms.  We not only baptized some today, we also had five young people confirm their baptism vows.  One of the things that goes along with baptism is the calling of the person by name- giving them a public identity.  So Simon changed his name to Peter when he followed Christ because his identity changed.  So Saul changed his name to Paul when he began to follow Christ to symbolize he is a new person.  When a baby is baptized we identify that baby in the church- calling them by name, and when they are old they confirm those baptism vows- confirming for themselves the identity they have in Christ- originally made by their parents or guardians. 
     But from the very beginning, Christians are people who are called to love.  To love God, to love one another, and to love our neighbor, even to love our enemies and those we may not naturally like.  From the very beginning we are sent out to spread the love and the good news.  It is not just these twelve who are sent- we are all sent- to love and to point people to Jesus.  I am reminded of the Christian Mercy Hospital ships- old renovated ships who bring medical supplies and surgical skills and also the gospel to different areas.  People rejoice to see that ship- for it is a ship of hope.  I hope that is how people see you. 
     Jesus tells them to expect problems in this life- even when you try to love people.  Expect people to treat you poorly- because they treated Him poorly.  A student is not above His master.  If they demonized Jesus- calling this greatest of all persons evil- do not be shocked if people call you evil when you try to do good.  That is happening today to Christians.  As I said 90,000 Christians die every year.  That’s about one a minute somewhere in our world.  But more than just dying there are many others who are being arrested for keeping their faith.  And more than just being arrested there are many who are shunned or dismissed because they have faith.  Some do not see it.  But all you have to do is mention Jesus’ name on a public social media site and read the comments.  Expect this.  But the alternative is to give up hope in God in favor of hope in people.  Let me tell you God’s love for you will never fade, but the love of people is fickle and changes with the wind. 
     In our baptism- and especially in our confirmation of our baptism vows we are called to spread faith, hope, and love.  We are not called to keep it to ourselves.  Jesus’ last words on earth were to go into all the world and baptize- teaching them what He has taught us. 
     We are not sent out like a bunch of stirred up fire ants.  We are not sent out like a rudderless ship with no way to have direction.  Years ago off the NC Coast I saw a huge ship that had been wrecked because its rudder broke and it could not steer away from danger.  The lighthouse had warned it.  It cut power and dropped anchor but the current and wind pushed it into a shoal of sand and it lodged there a huge testimony to not being able to have direction.  Without a rudder- when waves, wind, tide come helpless.
     If you ask the average American what they want- they want safety and security in this life.  A safe harbor.  I want good health, a good education and a good job.  Health Insurance and Education costs have risen way past inflation rates the last ten years.  The cost of public- in- state school went up 296% health care is up 33% vs. inflation.  At some point these things will be over-valued.   Jesus asked the disciples to not take a bag of money with them and no extra clothes so they could see what it is like to depend on God- and that they could do it.  Every Air Force Academy cadet has to go through ESET- Expeditionary, Survival and Evasion Training (ESET). This is when you learn to survive if you are shot down behind enemy lines- living off berries, roots, and the land.  Once you have done this, it boosts your confidence.  This is what Jesus was doing.  Letting his 12 go through survival school to teach them all they really need is God- especially when life gets rough.  So, set sail with a purpose- you are not designed to stay in a safe harbor or in the starting blocks or staring gates.   The message is to get out and you are headed toward the best harbor in heaven.  You are sent to your neighbors, your family members, wherever you go to make a difference and to be a witness for Him.