A couple was engaged to be married when they met with unfortunate circumstances and found themselves standing at the gates of heaven before St. Peter. Very much in love, they explained their situation to Peter and asked if they could be married. Peter asked about the denomination of their church on earth and they told him United Methodist. After some thought, Peter said that although this was a highly unusual request, he believed it could be arranged.
Peter said, “Let me ask a favor of you. To make sure you are certain about what you are asking, wait for two years and if you still want to be married, come and see me.” Two years went by, and the couple came back to Peter and affirmed that they still wanted to be married. Peter said, “Stay here and I’ll be right back.” After a length of time, Peter returned and told the couple, “I’ve been thinking about your request. Why don’t you wait two more years before you get married? After all, a thousand years is like a day in heaven.” The couple agreed to wait two more years. After that time had passed, they came to Peter and told him they still were certain they wanted to be married. Peter said, “Wait right here. I’ll be back shortly.” After some length of time, Peter returned to the couple and told them, “Why don’t you wait for two more years, and if a United Methodist minister doesn’t make it to heaven by that time, I’ll perform the wedding ceremony myself.”
Jesus talked with his disciples about heaven when they reported about a mission trip on which he had sent them. Their trip had required personal sacrifice as they were sent out as lambs in the midst of wolves for the two-fold purpose of:
- proclaiming peace in Luke 10:5: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’”
- proclaiming the nearness of God’s kingdom in Luke 10:8-11: “Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what s set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’”
The purpose of the mission trip of the 70 was to proclaim peace and the nearness of God’s kingdom. Did you notice what the 70 reported to Jesus as they returned with joy following their mission trip? Instead of reporting about the purpose of their trip: proclaiming peace and the nearness of God’s kingdom, Luke 10:17 records that the seventy reported on something entirely different from the purpose of the mission to which Jesus had assigned them as they told Jesus, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”
Remember that the purpose of the mission, to which the 70 had been assigned, was a mission of proclaiming peace and the nearness of God’s kingdom, not a mission to have demons submit to them. Hearing their report, Jesus told the seventy, “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Challenging words for the 70 disciples who were focusing on the manifestations of their mission rather than the purpose of their mission. Challenging words for us as we remember that our mission as followers of Jesus is to proclaim God’s peace and the nearness of God’s kingdom.
Joyful words for these 70 disciples whom Jesus told to rejoice because God had written their names in heaven. Joyful words for us as we remember God’s faithful saving action and proclaim peace and the nearness of God’s kingdom.
To appreciate the mission of peace and the proclamation of the nearness of God’s kingdom, it is important to note that the term, “kingdom of God”, is found 32 times in the Gospel of Luke. Often, in Luke, the Kingdom of God is found in unexpected ways that witness to God’s saving actions. Like a mustard seed growing into a plant that provides shelter for birds or Jesus welcoming children and the powerless, the Kingdom of God is proclaimed in unlikely ways.
Supper House is a cooperative effort among 28 Muskegon, Michigan-area places of worship. Every Monday through Friday (from 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.), these congregations work together to provide an evening meal in the gymnasium of Temple United Methodist Church. Each congregation provides 8-12 volunteers to serve the evening meal once a month, along with the cost of the evening’s meal, approximately $200 per month.
Supper House opened its doors in July of 1999. In the beginning, 30 people were served 3 evenings per week. Now 140-200 people are served 5 nights per week. All are welcomed and served with respect at Supper House. There are no qualifications or pre-conditions that must be met in order to share a meal with us.
At Supper House, we provide more than a meal. People hunger for many things: food, attention, respect, dignity, and a sense of belonging. While many of our guests come to Supper House because we provide their only meal of the day, others come seeking company and friendship. Many of our guests are children who long for adult attention and appreciation. Others are the elderly looking for a caring heart that will listen to their concerns. Still, others return to Supper House to “give back” and encourage others, who may now be experiencing similar hardships.
While most volunteers come to serve the evening meal, others have found their gifts in sharing the meal and their stories with those they serve, finding their own lives enriched by these exchanges. The truth is, many of our volunteers feel that they themselves are the ones who benefit the most from these relationships and in selflessly serving those in need.
Betty Dunn writes that a Supper House ministry in her city illustrates the kingdom of God in action. In a recent Supper House newsletter article, a displaced, homeless woman visited Supper House and found the kingdom of God operating. As the article says, “When she entered Supper House, she found a ‘community of hearts’ who were also willing to pray for her. Food, conversation, caring, and prayer—all a part of Supper House. How blessed we are to serve in this ministry!! …a hint of how the Kingdom of God is supposed to be.”
Why are you rejoicing?
by Pastor Marc Brown
July 3, 2022
Accompanying Scriptures: Luke 10:1-11, Luke 10:16-20
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for July 3, 2021
Scripture Lesson Luke 10:1-11, Luke 10:16-20
The Good News “Rejoicing”
Music “Lord, Be Glorified”
Closing Music “Praise to the Lord the Almighty” arr. James Clements