I was looking over the Lectionary this morning and Jesus words to the 70 stood out. In particular were the words, "Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is 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." Considering where the Episcopal Church is currently, they are words to consider. TEC has taken a stand, a very unpopular one at that. We have decided to live out the Gospel message and welcome all and fully include them in our common life regardless of who they are.
This is a message that is difficult for many. Here in Northwest Arkansas, it is an especially hard message to deliver. Our struggles against years of fear and prejudice based on misunderstandings of the different seem to fall on deaf ears. The message today, like it was 2000 years ago, is unwelcome. So what are we to do? Do we simply move on; leave our families and friends? Do we simply give up?
I don't think so. A seed has been planted; one that is slowly taking root. We are the receivers of this message. We who welcomed the inclusiveness of the Gospel have to stay and tend to it. Like all seeds, the message of the Resurrection must be fertilized, watered and cared for if it is to grow properly. Even now the weeds of doubt, hatred and fear threaten to choke out the love of God that begs to be shown to all people. It is up to us to tend this garden, even when it seems a lost cause.
Jesus also said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." We are those laborers. Rather than rail against those who would reject the message of all encompassing love, we need to show them that God's Grace is extended to all. That is our mission.