This is an adapted form of the sermon I preached on Sunday, July 7. The gospel reading was Luke 10:1-11, 16-20. Apologies for the lateness of this post.
God has work for you to do. Do you know how big this work is? Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.” That’s how big it is.
Hold on, though. Let’s start closer to home. Do you know how big grace is?
Grace is big. So very, very big. Bigger than we can even imagine. And it is for you.
This huge thing called grace is God’s love freely given, to you. That’s right. To you. As I wrote this sermon, I didn’t know who would be here today. I didn’t know that you would be here. But I knew, even then, that it was for you. Because grace doesn’t worry about whether you’re old or young, black or white, liberal or conservative, gay or straight or bi, male or female or non-binary, refugee, immigrant, migrant, criminal, peasant, king. Grace is bigger than that. Grace is for you, and there is nothing, nothing on earth or in the sea or in the stars above that could keep God’s grace away from you. It’s that big.
God’s grace is love. For you. Love even for the parts of you that seem unlovable.
God’s grace is mercy. For you. Mercy even for the things you’ve done that seem unforgiveable.
God’s grace is peace. For you. Peace even for the days that seem unlivable.
God’s grace covers all worries, worries about money and food and other people’s opinions. Worries about whether you’re good enough. You are. God’s grace is bigger than all that. God’s grace is sufficient. God’s grace overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life.
I know. You don’t see it. You don’t see that grace in your life. Not every day. Some days we’re distracted. And some days are just garbage. Some weeks. Some years. You don’t always see grace.
But Jesus does. Jesus sees things we don’t. Jesus said to his disciples, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.” The disciples didn’t see that. But Jesus did.
You see, Jesus had just sent out seventy of his disciples. He sent them out to bring in the harvest. The harvest was plentiful, he said, and he sent them out as laborers to bring in that harvest. And when they did, he saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.
Jesus sees all kinds of things we don’t.
Jesus sees you for who you are, not who you think you are. Jesus sees your baptism. Jesus sees that water still dripping from your head, that water that clapped its hands and rejoiced in you. Jesus sees you as God’s beloved child. The grace poured out on you in baptism is so big and so vast; it’s still pouring, and Jesus sees it.
And Jesus sees you in communion. Jesus sees you as he says, “Here, take and eat of me. Be filled with my presence.” Jesus sees you inside and out. And fills you with grace overflowing.
God’s grace is hope. For you. Hope for those days when you forget all this. And I know you forget all this sometimes, because I do.
And God’s grace is a calling. For you. A calling to be the person God made you to be. A calling to let the grace that is bursting forth from you go out into the world, and make a difference. A calling to let the world know that God’s grace is real, and God’s grace is bigger than anything else.
Jesus told his disciples that the harvest was plenty. When a harvest is ready, the workers have to go out in the field and bring it in. There’s a lot of work to do, and there is no time to tarry. Our harvest is indeed ready, and it is indeed plenty. Look around in the world. It’s not strawberries or corn I’m talking about. It’s suffering. It’s need. It’s hurt and pain. There is so much out there, and God is ready to harvest it.
Think about it this way. Jesus once said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
God transforms seed into plants, and the farmer doesn’t know how. Just so, God is with those who suffer, transforming that suffering. We see suffering and need and pain. God sees salvation, bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor. We may not see that, but Jesus does. And he sends out his laborers. His laborers who are overflowing with grace, to bring in that harvest. To find those places where God’s word is already taking root, and to gather in the crop. We are those laborers. And when we do this, Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.”
Too much metaphor? Okay. I’ll say it differently. God is sending you out there to do your best. To do your absolute best. To use what you’ve been given to make a difference in the world. To help people to see where, and how, God is making a difference. You have made a difference. And you will.
That’s why the Holy Spirit calls us together as a church. Not just for a great fellowship. Not just a place to share sing and pray. Although those things are good. And not just for a safe place to bicker and argue. Although that’s good too, I guess. But the Holy Spirit gathers us together in order to send us out, like Jesus sent out the disciples two by two. Your work in the world is so important. It’s so important and so real. And whether you see the results or not, Jesus does. Jesus sees Satan falling from heaven like a flash of lightning. That’s how big our work is. And yet, Jesus says, “Don’t rejoice at that. Don’t rejoice at your successes in the world. There’s something even bigger to rejoice in. Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
In other words, rejoice that you have God’s grace. Now and always. Today and forever. Here and everywhere. You have big work to do. And you have grace that’s even bigger.