Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 47 which keeps us on point as we move toward Pentecost:
All you peoples, clap your hands; shout to God with cries of gladness. For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome, is the great king over all the earth.
Psalm 47: 2-3
We can be confident. Christ’s work is accomplished. We await the Spirit which will accompany us now in living the Gospel fully.
For king of all the earth is God; sing hymns of praise. God reigns over the nations, God sits upon his holy throne.
Psalm 47: 8-9
Our Gospel today confirms us in our call, like the newly-gathered Twelve, to radical discipleship:
On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God.
And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we shall have to go to him, for only he knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey’s end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy.
Today, in Mercy, Isaiah – in glorious prophecy – promises God’s People better times.
Oh my, don’t we all long for the fulfillment of that promise! Sometimes, I can’t even watch the news anymore because the world is in such seemingly irreversible pain!
Perhaps we can use our prayer within these readings today to call on God for the healing they promise.
It is a healing that requires our cooperation. Isaiah says that we must name our pain to God – for ourselves and for all who suffer in our world:
The Lord will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you.
The prophet says that this crying out will change us. We will see the Lord with us in our suffering. God will lead us through that suffering by our acts of faith, hope, love, justice and mercy:
No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or to the left.
Our Gospel tells us that we are called to be Christ’s disciples, and that disciples are healers. By letting our lives become sources of healing in the world, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled for our time.
Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
How we do these wondrous deeds in the world is an ongoing revelation. When I was very young, I took the proclamation quite literally. I soon lost confidence that I would ever really “cure” someone of anything!
Life has blessed me with the realization that there are many degrees of healing. There many ways in which living people are caught in deadly lives. There are all kinds of “lepers ” in our society, rendered so by the prejudices of others. Certainly, many of us carry all sorts of crippling demons.
Acknowledging the pain in ourselves and others, and trusting that God wants us to be healed and whole, is the work of true discipleship. Let’s keep our eyes on Isaiah’s promise to give us a generous, merciful courage for our call! Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus as he shows us the way.
Music: (Can you take a little hint of “country” this morning?)
Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus – written by Helen Howarth Lemmel (1863-1961) and sung here by Alan Jackson, one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records.