Traveling Light

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Mark 6:1-13         “Traveling Light”

Have you noticed the signs of doors of public buildings that have knives and guns with a big red X drawn through them?  It will come as no surprise to anyone today that no guns, knives, crossbows, meat cleavers, box cutters, mace or similar items are allowed in carry-on luggage if you plan on boarding an airliner.  That makes sense to me but what is wrong with mascara, toothpaste, mouth wash, hair gel, yogurt or pudding cups in your carry-on bag or purse?  A few personal care items are permitted in very small amounts, if packed in a special way (see through Baggie), but not any of the other stuff in any quantity. Unfortunately, explosives can be disguised to look like those innocent products, so we either have to put them in our checked bags or leave them at home.

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) would be happier if we all took nothing more than the clothes on our backs for air travel, but that really is NOT practical. Essentially, Jesus told his disciples when he sent them out in pairs to cast out demons, heal the sick and to call people to repentance, “Take nothing for the journey.”  According to Mark, Jesus allowed them to take a staff and to wear sandals, but no extra clothing, only that which they were wearing.  Like the TSA, Jesus had a list of prohibited items:  no bread, no bag, no money in their belts and no second tunic. (Matthew and Luke do not allow a staff or sandals.) Jesus banned items that could undermine the mission on which he was sending the disciples  They were to depend on GOD to provide for them through the hospitality of strangers.  There is an exercise in faith for you!  How they traveled and were welcomed was to be a demonstration of God’s care.  No check-on bags and only one small carry-on.

A lesson for us:  when Jesus sends us out to be his people in the world and tells us to rely on him–and take nothing, zip, nada, with us–only who we are, including our normal baggage. The baggage we carry is the personal history we drag with us that interferes with our living fully in the present.  This baggage could be non-productive ways of dealing with conflict, inappropriate responses that are triggered at inopportune moments, unresolved fears from childhood, psychological damage from abuse, scary ideas about God–just about any holdover from our past that keeps us from getting on well in our relationships or with our daily responsibilities.  Most of us have some kind of baggage that travels with us even when we think we have taken nothing for the journey. What can we learn from Jesus and his sending out the twelve?

  • He tells them to take nothing extra for the journey, only the clothes that they are wearing. They will be vulnerable.They

can take their shortcomings, scarred psyches and damaged emotions, and they can still do the work to which he calls them: cast out demons and heal the sick.

  • The disciples were working for the Divine Healer.Mathew adds to his account that by casting out spirits and healing the sick that Jesus had fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet, Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases” (Matthew 8:17).  Healing diseases and taking away infirmities (casting out spirits); infirmities could include emotional baggage which needs divine healing.  Sometimes folks who have high opinions of themselves are guilty of pride, while those with low self-esteem attempt to hide how worthless they feel.  These kinds of baggage need healing.
  • On the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told listeners not to be anxious about their lives, what they would eat, drink or wear.Instead of worrying, he pointed out that we should trust God to care for us and to seek God’s kingdom.  The tendency to worry about everything does not mean we are not faithful followers of Christ, only that we have baggage.

So…how can we deal with baggage?

  • Ask God to help us face our problems head-on without rationalizations that keep us from doing well.
  • Take a look at those whom we blame for some of our hang-ups.Decide what to do to set those memories aside and move-on.
  • Accept the responsibility for how we are today.The past has shaped who we are today but we are responsible for dealing with life’s issues today–to become the whole persons God intended us to be.
  • Lay the problem before God to begin healing.Leave our baggage behind.

Grudges are like baggage.  They are a form of obsession we carry around with us.  When others have hurt us, we fantasize about revenge. Eventually, we come to realize that our grudge is a far greater burden than the original incident.  The only thing to do is to lay it down–like the extra coat Jesus says to leave behind.  When we shed that baggage, we will be traveling light, according to Jesus’ recommendation.

Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” came to mind when  I was writing this message:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Amen.

Categories: Weekly Sermon

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