Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I don't want to shake off the dust...

Luke 9: 1 - 6

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: "Take nothing for the journey - no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

This scripture surfaced with me this week as I reflected on my trip to India. I am also in the midst of planning Ash Wednesday services, and so I think "dust" is resting on my heart right now. Dust, and fleetingness, and longing and call.

Our journey to India was not much like Jesus' sending forth. You see, when we went to India, we didn't go empty handed. In some ways, our packing betrayed our faltering faith. We had bags, money, food, clothing, medication. We didn't go so much to preach and to heal - we went to listen and be healed. We were received with abundant hospitality at every turn. Our very best experiences were in the homes, by the hearths, of fellow pilgrims on creation's journey. Our hosts did not always share our commitment to Christ, but they all spoke of a common God, of a call to love one another.

We walked through the dust of a Muslim tribal village to see fields of mustard awaiting harvest, to laugh with children and to face the preconceptions of the west held by our host. We walked on the dusty paths between rice paddies, fish ponds, bamboo houses and dug out canoes to hear women speak with pride of their role in community leadership. We walked through the dusty halls of a crowded hospital where people waited in long lines for basic care, but where doctors and counselors literally work so that the lame can walk.

Now i am back. And I find myself feeling dusty and exposed. And that dust bears witness to all that I saw and felt and heard and tasted. It bears witness to God's faithfulness and to Jesus' vision of Kingdom where the lame walk and the meek inherit the earth, where kingdom comes on earth as in heaven.

And as I walk toward Ash Wednesday, as I prepare to mark foreheads and speak the words, from dust you have come and to dust you will return, I find myself cherishing the dustiness of life and the dust of our common humanity, frailty and mortality and recognizing the call to keep moving ahead into the places I am sent, dusty.

Gracious God,
Thank you for the experiences that leave us dusty with the lives of others.
Help us know the places we are to linger as well as the places we must leave behind.
Help us wear the dust we gather in ways that tell your story
And build your kingdom.
Respectful of the many ways your children cry out to you, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ,

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