Fatherís Day Ė June 16, 2002
Best Not Done Alone Matt.9:35-38
is one of the subtle ironies of life that while most people think growing up
means learning to do more & more things for them-selves, there is also a
side to growing up that recognizes there are some things that cannot
or ought not be done alone.
Being strong, independent, able to work hard on your own is great, except
if you got four or five miles of irrigation pipe to lay out.
Laying out irrigation pipe is best
not done alone. It takes two,
usually three people to do it well.
A doctor doesnít release an 82 year old mother who
has had surgery & been in the hospital nine days to return home to living by
herself without arranging for a home health nurse to make regular visits for
two, maybe three weeks, while other family members arrange schedules to make
sure mom is not alone. A good recovery is best
not done alone.
Or how about when people are feeling healthy and well.
Whatís a good game of golf if you donít have someone to golf with.
Whatís the joy of having a ticket to a Big Red football game or a
College World Series game if you donítí have someone to go with.
Having a good time is best not
though we like to do things on our own, by ourselves, sometimes itís not
in Godís plan for things to be done or experienced alone.
Look at the public ministry of Jesus Christ and how Jesusí ministry started off as a one-man ministry. Somewhere in the middle of Jesusí public ministry, Jesus knew, Jesus could see, if His ministry was to spread, if His preaching & teaching the Kingdom of God was to reach all those who might respond positively to His message, then Jesusí ministry was fast-becoming a ministry best not done alone.
This is how Jesus began his ministry writes Matthew in Matt. 4:23
throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the
kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
News about Jesus spread all over Syria, and people brought to Him all who
were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the
demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.
Large crowds followed him.
power & authority from God aimed at helping & healing ordinary, hurting,
struggling people had not been seen before. Peter, James & John, who were among the first to follow
Jesus, must have watched in amazement as crowds of people gathered wherever
By the time we get to Matthew 10, all twelve disciples have been chosen and are named. Itís at the end of Matthew 9, the beginning of Matthew 10 that Jesus says to these twelve men:
time has come. Itís time to shift gears. Itís time to get you disciples
involved. Itís time you in My name and with My power & authority to do
what I have already been doing. For
the good of the Kingdom of God; for the salvation & love & peace of God
to touch more & more people; for this ministry to go forward not backward, Jesus
is saying, it's
best this ministry not be done alone.
this is from Jesus who knew He had come into this world not to be served, but to
serve and to single-handedly give His life a ransom for many, writes
The harvest is plentiful, Jesus said to His disciples, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, to send out workers into his harvest field.
on my day off I am asked to be a worker in a farm field to help lay out
irrigation pipe, I may do that partly to stay in shape, and partly to get away
from my office, but mostly I do it to help meet a very practical, sometimes
urgent need when no one else is available.
Yet laying out irrigation pipe is nothing
compared to laying down whatever else Iím doing to sit at the side of
someoneís bed whose life is not long for this world; or visit someone who has
recently lost a loved one; or go on a retreat with Junior High kids when itís
hard to find other adults to go alone.
And such acts of compassion & commitment to Christian ministry that
are best not done alone is just scratching the surface.
Our world today, much like the world into which Jesus came, is filled
with rivers of heart-ache & floods of frustration. If we stop & look
around with the eyes of Jesus we will see people all around us who are living
hard lives; people living with little to call their own; widows & widowers
who sometimes feel helpless or hard-pressed to accept circum-stances over which
they have little or no control. Visit
our Senior Center; visit one of the care homes; volunteer to deliver Meals on
Wheels; be a mentor to a Junior High Student; we donít have to look too far to
see people looking harassed
& helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
If we are truly believers & followers of the compassionate, considerate
ways of Jesus, dare we ask, Whatís
all this to us?
Dare we say as if itís none of our business, The
Lord helps those who help themselves?
only does Jesus encourage His disciples & us to pray for workers in the
harvest fields, but this word from Jesus challenges us to get involved in the
work of ministry that is best not done alone.
One of my favorite authors to read this spring has been Eugene H.
Peterson who writes, We donít just receive Christís
ministry, we share it. Each Christian is a nexus, a connection for grace, (like
irriga-tion pipe laid out pipe to pipe & joined together for water from a
deep well to reach dry, dry ground.)
the vigorous energies of Christís preaching, teaching, and healing spill out
of our lives into the world, writes Peterson.
What kind of ministry are you good at?
Where & when & how can you be a nexus, a connection for grace, a
living extension of Christís compassion & forgiveness?
Civil War chaplain approached a wounded soldier on the battle field and the
chaplain asked the soldier if he would like to hear a few verses from the Bible.
The wounded soldier said, ďNo,
Iím thirsty. Iíd rather have
The chaplain gave the soldier a drink, then asked again about reading a
few verses from the Bible.
sir, not now Ė but could you put something under my head?Ē
chaplain did so and again repeated his question.
ďNo, but I am starting to shake & really feel cold.Ē
The chaplain took off his coat and wrapped it around the soldier, but
this time he did not repeat the question. The
chaplain started to leave when the solider called him back.
he said, ďif
thereís anything in that book of yours that makes a person do for another what
youíve done for me, then I want to hear it.Ē
This is exactly what Jesus is calling all of us to do
to do for others what He has done for us.
And what makes us want to do for others what Christ has done for us is
what the Bible is all about. St. Paul says it so powerfully in the epistle for
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ
died for the ungodly. Very rarely
will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might
possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we
were still sinners, Christ died for us.
itís very nature, the Christian faith is best not done alone.
best done by all of us. Together. In community.
Itís best done out in the everyday, rough & tumble world where we
live; where life can be harsh & unpredictable; where people can get hurt
& farmers can loose their crops as quickly as a barrage of huge hail stones
can mow down a field of young corn.
May we not lose sight of the fact there are things
worse than hail that can hurt people -- war; prejudice; revenge; discrimination;
gossip; divorce; disease; disabilities.
May we not lose sight of that fact that itís precisely because helping
& getting involved with helpless, hurting people CAN BE risky &
uncomfortable, discouraging & unpleasant, that itís best
not done alone.
The challenge presented to us from Jesus is to go into the harvest fields
of life with a message of salvation & good news that is true &
authentic. And what makes the good
news so authentic is the people who deliver it.
People who are filled with joy. People who enjoy being with one another. People who share their varied gifts & talents willingly. People who reflect the love & mercy they have found in Jesus. People just like you & me. People who know that following Jesus and sharing the good news of Jesus in word & deed are best not done alone. Amen