Hebrews 12:18-29 and Luke 13:10-17
Dear Mom and Dad,
I just wanted to write and let you know that I’m doing just fine. I know you don’t approve of me traveling from place to place with this fellow, Jesus, and his companions, but I need you to know that things are going amazingly well. Before you get to worrying more than you already are, none of the “boys” as you called them, are giving me any trouble at all. Not a single one of them has hit on me, if that’s what you’re worried about. Jesus wouldn’t stand for it. Besides, all of us are on a pretty steep learning curve about the kingdom of God and we don’t have time for any fooling around.
First, I want to clear up something I said in my last email, about Jesus saying that he came to bring division, not peace. That bothered me for a while, too, until I realized that you and I are living this out in some way. Here I am following this man, being his disciple (though I would never tell the men I consider myself to be a disciple), and you are so against this, so angry with him and even with me, that his words and my actions are bringing division to our own family. I would love to have peace between us and have things back to the way they were before I started on this journey, but I know in my heart that this is the right thing to do. I’m just sorry that I’m hurting you. I never meant for that to happen.
Anyway, we’re getting ready to take off now, it seems like we’re always going somewhere, and I wanted to get this emailed before we leave. If I don’t write for a while it’s because the cyber cafés in this part of the world are pretty scarce. Never forget, I love you, Mom and Dad. Your daughter, Priscilla
Well, I really don’t know what to say. You know that your mother and I disapprove of your escapades with this charlatan or magician or sorcerer or whatever he is. More than anything, we just don’t want you to get hurt. We’re hearing every day from people who think that he is bad for us, that he is simply getting the Romans in an uproar and that he might have to be dealt with, if you know what I mean. Please come home. All will be forgiven.
Love, Your Mom and Dad
Dear Mom and Dad,
Thanks for your email, Father. I know that neither you nor Mother think much of Jesus, but then again you really don’t know him. All you know are the lies that the powers that be are saying about him. It’s disgraceful. It’s like those political ads we used to see on Jerusalem TV. I’ve heard that some of the Pharisees have been saying terrible things about him. They even show up when the master is teaching and try to trick him or shout him down. It’s awful the way some of them treat him. Even so, I’ve never seen him back down or not have a clever way of putting them in their place.
Take what happened last Friday evening. We were in one of the synagogues and Jesus was teaching. Oh, how I love to hear him teach and I can tell that the others do, too. I especially love watching those who are hearing him for the first time. Oh my! The looks on their faces are priceless whether they like him or hate him!
So anyway, we were in this synagogue listening to Jesus (it was like a town hall meeting) when a crippled woman came in. She was so bad that she couldn’t even stand up straight. I heard later that she had been like this for eighteen years! Can you imagine? Well, Jesus looked up from the scroll he was reading, called her over, and told her that she was free from what ailed her. He put his hands on her and right away, just like that, she stood up straight like a young woman and began to shout praises to God. Isn’t there something in our scriptures about the lame walking … that it’s a sign of the Messiah?
The leader of the synagogue got all hot and bothered and he kept saying to the crowd that Jesus had broken sabbath laws; that there were six days in the week when healing the sick was lawful, and what earthly reason did he have for doing this on the sabbath?
Technically he was right, Jesus did break sabbath laws, and I couldn’t imagine how he was going to respond because the rest of his disciples and we knew in our hearts that he had done the right thing.
Jesus turned it right back on them and called them hypocrites. He said that there was not a single one of us who would not water our livestock on the sabbath and technically speaking that was breaking the sabbath law. I could tell by the look in their eyes that he had them right then and there. He went on to point out that this daughter of Abraham was more important to God than any ox or donkey and that her being set free from her bondage on the sabbath was not a sin any more than watering their animals. I think he was asking us all to consider which was worse, a broken rule or a broken person?
He was right, of course, a broken person is much worse and those who opposed him were sure put in their place. But the rest of us, the ones that had in the past been put in our place by the overly rigid use of the law rejoiced in what he said and what he did. We could hardly contain ourselves.
I hope this will help you better understand why I’m going to continue to follow Jesus and why I believe he is the Messiah, the one who has to come into the world to set us free.
Your loving daughter, Priscilla
Your father doesn’t know I’m sending this email so please don’t mention it in anything you write back to us. I just wanted you to know that I fully approve of what you’re doing.
I’m nervous and a little scared for you, of course, because there are some very powerful men out there who are threatening some awful things against your teacher. Still, I think that if I were younger, I would be right there with you. But, Priscilla, please, please be careful. Your father is right that there are so many different ways to get hurt or at the least get your heart broken. I pray for your safety every day.
Love, your mother
Your mother doesn’t know I’m writing this email so please don’t mention it in anything you write back to us.
I just read an account in the Jerusalem Sun-Times of the scene Jesus made at the synagogue. I know you know this, but I want to remind you that there are many magicians out there who can do the same sorts of so-called miracles that this Jesus claims to do. We’ve had to put up with these so-called Messiahs for quite some time now. Our ancestors even warned us in the story about Moses and Pharaoh, how the court magicians could do almost everything that Moses could do by the power of God.
Yet, Priscilla, I also know that you are a bright girl and that you are a good judge of character and that you will know whether or not he is the real deal not by his works but by the fruit of his works.
If I had my way, you would be home with us safe and sound, but you are of age and I trust your judgment. I just want you to be careful.
Love, your father
Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, we’re off and running again. It sounds like we’re going to be traveling from town to village for the next few weeks. I can’t wait to hear more of his stories and see the miracles he’ll perform in those places. More and more people are joining our group but I have to admit, there are others who are not at all pleased with him. Some are actively working against him while others just turn and go back home.
It makes you think, just as you have warned me, whether or not he is the real deal. My heart tells me he is and even though you have your reservations about all this, I choose to follow him wherever he goes and whatever happens. I hope you understand. In so many ways I feel like that woman who can now stand up straight because of Jesus or the man who can now see. I am free at last from the bondages of sin and society and free to follow Jesus as one of his disciples. Love, Priscilla
Disciples! Our daughter thinks that women can become disciples! Now we’ve heard everything. You’re on your own now, kiddo.
But of course, we still love you and will always love you no matter what. Love, your Mom and Dad
Hebrews 12:22-25, tells us, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks.” —
I wonder if when God speaks to us through his Word, how we react. We always joke about how much easier it would be if God would just pick up the phone and call us direct instead of showing up in burning bushes and pillars of cloud or fire. The truth is, God does use the telephone. God does make those personal calls. I know. I can vividly remember the two calls I got back to back one day.
It was one of those days. I couldn’t do anything right at home or at church. I mean anything. I don’t need to go into details, all you need to know is that I was feeling pretty low. It was one of those times that a wife and a preacher has, where they sit and think about other things they could be doing. Anything but this. And then God called. The first call was from a former District Superintendent who said he suddenly felt like I needed to be lifted in prayer. He said he didn’t know why but he began praying for me. And then he decided to call and tell me how much my ministry had meant to him. Then not ten minutes later a good friend and colleague called to tell me that God had told her to call and say: “God still needs you. God still has plans for you and work for you to do.” You’d have to know this pastor to realize that not only did she believe that God spoke to her, but I believe it too. She’s that kind of person. And she has that kind of relationship with God. She asked me what it was all about and I told her. Then we prayed together. I know it was people who called that day, but it was God’s voice that I heard.
Moses was called by God in a burning bush, that was not consumed by the fire. I do not know what God has called you to do, but I hope you answered with ‘Here I am, Lord.”
My calling came at a Women’s Emmaus Walk. I had been procrastinating because I didn’t know if my salary as a ¼ time pastor would be enough, that we could pay all our bills and I didn’t know if I were good enough to preach God’s Word.
Through that experience at that Emmaus Walk, I realized that if God was calling me, he would enable me to be good enough and he would provide for all our needs. I answered, Here I am, Lord, send me. It was the best decision I have ever made, and I have no regrets.
What about you? What is God calling you to do? Where is God calling you to serve in ministry?
I truly believe that God calls each of us. We’re not just called to be saved and that’s it. No, when Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” He wasn’t talking about only going to church on Sundays. He was talking about both a lifestyle and a ministry. Jesus didn’t tell us to go and do nothing. He didn’t tell us to come to church and sit in the pew. He told us to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them all that He taught us and baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And He promised to be with us always.
God’s call in your life; the ministry God is calling you to, is the way in which you, in your own unique way, can carry out that great commission. God has already equipped you or has plans to equip you for that ministry.
God does have a plan for you. And God is calling. The question is will you answer, here I am?
Moses met that consuming fire and witnessed it in a bush that didn’t burn. And answered: “Here I Am”
Paul experienced that consuming fire as it blinded him on the Road to Damascus. And once he was healed, Paul answered: “Here I am.”
I met God at a Women’s Emmaus Walk and answered, “Here I am.”
Where will you meet the consuming fire of God’s call? God is calling you. As your pastor, I can distinctly hear God calling you. What I can’t do is make out what God is saying or what God is calling you to do. And there’s a simple reason for that because it’s not my call, it’s God’s call for you.
If you’ll listen you can hear it. If you’ll listen and open your hearts then you too can answer: “Here I Am, send me.” Together we can carry out the vision and mission of building God’s kingdom on earth as it is heaven.
Pastor Rosemary DeHut