On the Road Again

Passage: Luke 10:1-11
Date: July 7, 2019
Preacher: Guest Preacher
Guest Preacher: Rev. Susan Kintner

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Dear Fellow Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Grace and Peace to you from God our Creator, and from the Holy Spirit, our sustainer and guide. Amen

— My name is Susan Kintner, I am a Lutheran Pastor, born and raised in Port Angeles, Washington, west of Seattle, in the middle of the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula. My folks came out from Indiana in the Coast Guard, and liked it so well they stayed, especially after they tasted fresh Dungeness crab. I attended Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, a sister school to San Francisco Theological school in San Anselmo. I’ve served three parishes and as a hospital chaplain, and for the last 12 years as the Assistant to the Bishop for the Lutheran Church in the state of Oregon. We have 112 congregations, and I help them in the call process, when they are looking for a new pastor.

I am thrilled to be with you today— I am 65 years old, and I do cherish new experiences, and this is the first time I have been invited to preach to a Presbyterian congregation— Some of my best friends are Presbyterian, really! And my Uncles, Burton and Elgin too. I met your Pastor Newman in Indiana, where we were in the same group of Clergywomen hosted by the Benedictine Sisters for rest and renewal. St.
Luke, the director, is expecting photographic evidence from this morning.

I love birds, I love actual birds, bird books, bird cards, bird punches. I grew up in a home with bird feeders, binoculars and field guides. As a child I thought that therefore every home had bird feeders, binoculars, and field guides, but I have since discovered that is not true. 5 years ago I was in Florida, at a lovely beach side home on the Western coast, invited for dinner with people from a conference. There was a lovely shallow beach, at sunset, with birds, huge birds I couldn’t identify. I was shocked, amazed, that there wasn’t a bird book to be found. Later in my hotel room, with my computer and the world wide web, I discovered I had seen storks. We don’t have anything like that in the northwest.

I recommend to you a book titled Crow Planet, (2009, Back Bay Books) by a Seattle author, Lyanda Lynn Haupt. She writes about becoming a naturalist of one’s own neighborhood— and all the things one does to prepare. She used to go camping and hiking, but with the birth of their daughter, she has shifted to focus on her neighborhood. She has a chapter about field guides. They picked up a field guide with a chapter about Spiders.  One evening, at random, they picked one type to read about, and the very next morning discovered THAT kind of spider under the back porch step. “While Claire hovered over the spiderlings and sketched them in her notebook, I wondered over the fact that if we’d found those spiders just the day before, we would have known nothing about them. And I was sure, on some level, that it was learning about them that allowed us to find them. Whenever I renew a commitment to studying raptors or gulls or crows or the birds in my backyard, more are given, more show themselves. Our efforts are rewarded, our studies are enhanced in experience. I cannot explain this, and I am reluctant to sound too woo-woo, but we can take this as confidently as if it came from the Oracle at Delphi: the more we prepare, the more we are “allowed,” somehow to see. This is a guarantee: select a subject, obtain a proper field guide, study it well, and you will see more than you ever have of your chosen subject- and more than that besides.”

Friends, I think the Bible is our field guide, and we are being prepared to see God active in our world. Through stories of promise, feeding, healing, and finally the resurrection, we are being shaped and trained to find God’s reign, to hear God’s call, to notice when the tomb is empty, to recognize the resurrection.

Today's passage from Luke’s 10th chapter, tells the story of 70 followers of Jesus going out to the towns he intended to visit. We know the details, remember, carry no bag or purse, no sandals. In other words, travel light, and announce that the Kingdom of God has come near. Eat what is set before you, cure the sick. And if they don’t welcome you, keep moving.

This time of the church year is all about how we make the story of Jesus our own, about our discipleship as a community and as individuals. These followers of Jesus are preparing his way, they are very vulnerable, and God’s grace makes it all possible.
What is the good news for today, and how do we make it our own? What is the field guide teaching us to look for?
To travel light,
To expect to be vulnerable,
To announce God’s reign, and to depend on God’s grace.
In about 30 - 40% of our Lutheran Congregations today, resources and mission don’t match, the demands of the building increase as the congregation ages and shrinks. So one of our congregations, as they reviewed People, Program, and Building, and knowing they could only do 2 of the three, gave us the building which we sold to leverage new ministry, and they are still a congregation, and nest for 6 months at a time with other Lutheran congregations. They are Vagabond Lutherans. They are a small group, and meet once a month at a home for worship and decision making. They truly are Traveling light.

Expect to be vulnerable. We spend a lot of time in one to one conversations, listening. To hear the passions and pressures of those we meet. In order to listen, we have to open our hearts, and listen a long time to discover the themes and values. Can you listen? Can you be open to being changed by what you hear?

To announce God’s reign? Why does God have Westminster Presbyterian church here? As a sister in Christ, and cousin theologically, I can ask that question? I know that if this congregation disappeared, you would be missed.
Finally, we need to depend on God’s grace to lead us through. My heart breaks often over the crisis on our borders, and the cruelty I see there. I understand that grace of God will give us strength to look at hard things and continue to work for justice and change Our scriptures speak plainly about welcoming the stranger, caring for the widow and orphan, the sick, imprisoned, hungry and calls us to action..
Bless your walk this week — as God calls you to travel light, to be vulnerable and open when you listen, to Announce God’s reign, and to depend on God’s grace.
Come now to the table and receive that Grace, dear disciples. Amen.