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My Treasured Possession

June 17, 2017

I’ve been thinking about Tim’s ordination as a priest in a few week’s time. It is a real time of celebration for us all in this benefice. Tim, along with all of the deacons being ordained priest at this time, is moving from a servant ministry to a leadership ministry in our church. A huge step for him and an answer to prayer for our church. Indeed, it’s an echo of Jesus’ call to prayer, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’ (Matthew 9.37) After this call to prayer, Jesus sends out the twelve apostles, as Tim and I have been sent to this part of rural Norfolk.

But when I read that Jesus told them, “‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10.5-6) Jesus doesn’t send the twelve to everyone, only to the Jews. Why? Doesn’t Jesus care about the others? I think that Jesus does care about the others, because his Father cares for everyone. Read on and you’ll find out why.

For the answer I first read the rest of the story of their sending out from Matthew 9.35-10.8. I read and found this, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9.36) Jesus had seen a need and he was doing something about it. Jesus first calls his followers to pray for more people to help them. Then he sends them out, proclaiming that good news. But still why only to the Jews?

Well I then got a clue from the Old Testament, from Exodus 9.5-6, where God speaks to Moses. God gives a message for Moses to tell God’s people. Moses is to say to them from God, “Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.’

Moses is reminding God’s people (the Jews of Jesus time) that they should be a special people. God loves all the earth and all people so he has chosen a special people to serve all people and show them the way to know God for themselves. Now I think Jesus was sending his followers out to remind the Jews of their job from God. Jesus was sending the twelve out to find more ‘labourers’: To remind the Jews that they were to be God’s holy people and their job was to be ‘priests’ for all the people of the world. They were to be like shepherds for the harassed and the broken, they were to lead them lovingly back to the God who made them and loves them.

That brings me back again to me and Tim; priests in the church of God. We are to love and care for all people, but, a bit like the twelve apostles, our first duty is to the people of God. We are called to remind the followers of Jesus that we are a priestly people. Me and Tim, and all priests are called to be leaders and examples to our people in how to be priests for all people. We are called to live this and lead, but we are not called to do it all ourselves. If we do we are directly disobeying Jesus. Those of us who are ordained as priests, are to work with all of Jesus followers to make sure that there are lots of ‘labourers’: Lots of people being Christ for the people around them.

All Christians are called to let people know that “the Kingdom of God has come close”. We are to be willing to talk about our faith, and to show our faith by the loving things that God can do through us. We are called, not to be a ‘holy huddle’ keeping ourselves untainted by the world. We are to get out there. Everyone who knows Jesus is told by Jesus to be Jesus for the people they meet. Everyone who knows Jesus is also to bring everything of this world back to God. When we meet together to pray and worship we are to bring all of those other people that we meet with us in our hearts and minds. Our worship can then celebrate the good things in this world. Our worship also allows us to cry to God for him to forgive to forgive, and to heal all that is wrong.

I can read God’s words to Moses and know that they apply to all God’s people now. As priests, Tim and I are called to say, to you God’s people, “The Lord God says this, ‘if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation’.” (Exodus 19.5-6)

Tim and I are to tell you that you are God’s “treasured possession”. You are to go out and let everyone you meet know that they are loved too!

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