Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 54; 146, Isaiah 48:12-21 (22), Galatians 1:18-2:10, Mark 6:1-13
When Jesus felt the disciples were finally ready to travel and spread his teachings, he dispatched them in pairs. He told them to bring nothing extra: no food, no luggage, no extra clothes, and no money. For shelter they were to rely on the hospitality of the communities they visited, and in its absence they were to rely on the open road. Though his commands sounded harsh, Mark reports the disciples had successful journeys depending only on the bare minimum.
As technology evolves, the “bare minimum” has become anything but: smart phones, tablets, fitness bands, bottled water, etc, etc. Today we can barely imagine going on a mission trip without a GPS and the Bible on an e-reader. Imagine Jesus unpacking your purse or backpack or luggage and saying: “You won’t be needing this charger. Or this phone. Or different shoes for hiking and digging. Or this pencil. Or…” until eventually you have nothing but a walking stick, the clothes on your back, and a single companion.
Yet what a gift it is when two people are separated by no distractions and joined by a dedication to the Good News. On our own we can easily wander down the wrong path, but a companion keeps us accountable and on track. Our fear is less when someone has our back, and our strength is greater when we are responsible for and with another. Scriptures contain many examples of prophets and leaders who were at their best when they had a partner sharing the burden: Moses and Aaron, David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, Elijah and Elisha.
Relationships are formed in the absence of distractions. Being fully present with another person while you both are working for the Kingdom of God is a uniquely bonding experience. That work can be anything from digging wells in Africa to praying together for someone in need. It can’t be done well if we are juggling unnecessary items that distract us from the task at hand. Jesus teaches us again and again that we don’t need possessions. Even more he teaches us we need each other.
Comfort: The less you own, the more you have.
Challenge: The more you own, the less you have.
Prayer: God of peace, shape me into a suitable companion for those who would walk with me to share your Word. Amen.
Discussion: Even within Christianity there are divisive factions. Have you ever found yourself joined in a common purpose with someone you had previously considered an opponent?
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