I’ve been thinking a lot about packing. The bus leaves for Youth Gathering a week from tomorrow. And our trip home for our family reunion, my Grandma’s 100th birthday party and our daughter’s wedding is looming on the horizon. What to pack, what might I need while I’m gone – how much baggage will I carry?
Every time I pack for a trip, I remember the hasty last minute trip I took to visit my mother. I was 26 and going through a crisis and needed my mom. She was at their rental in Florida, and suggested that I come for the weekend. So I booked a flight, and started throwing things in a suitcase. I called to give Mom the flight information and mentioned that I needed to squeeze in a quick trip to the store. I was out of conditioner and a couple of other things.
Mom said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s not like they don’t sell conditioner in Florida. Just pack what you have and we’ll get what you need when you get here.”
I remember that advice every time I pack. It’s become a sort of motto – It’s not like they don’t sell (whatever) in (wherever it is that I’m going).
Despite my mother’s sage words, I still usually pack way too much. I have trouble travelling light.
The disciples were going on a trip, without Jesus. Instead of their usual group adventure, he paired them up and sent them off on mission trips around Galilee. And he’s very specific about what they are – and are not – to pack: Take a staff, wear sandals, oh- and a tunic of course, but just one.
Take no food for the journey, no money, no change of clothes. Leave your baggage at home. Everything you need for the journey will be provided when you get there.
Actually, the main thing they needed was given to them before they left – Jesus empowered them for the mission, giving them his authority to heal and teach and cast out demons.
So, having been giving what they need to complete their mission and trusting God to take care of the details, the disciples traveled light:
– No excess baggage to slow them down.
– No stuff to distract them from their mission.
– Nothing to get in the way of proclaiming the kingdom of God.
The folks back home in Jesus’ home town carried a lot of baggage into the synagogue that Sabbath morning Jesus was teaching. They remembered the child that played with their children, the young man who worked with his hands learning the carpenter’s trade. They remembered a hasty wedding and the gossip – this was Mary’s son, sure, but who knew if he really was Joseph’s. They remembered that Passover trip where he got lost and his parents had to go all the way back to Jerusalem to find him. They remembered the quick trip his mother and brothers had made just a few months ago to bring him back home and how they returned without Jesus despite rumors he was out of his mind.
Imagine! This hometown boy a prophet? Unthinkable! This boy was too big for his britches! Their image of Jesus was a neat little package, and there just wasn’t room in the suitcase for a Jesus who taught with authority, who proclaimed the kingdom of God had come near, who healed the sick and cast out demons.
They were offended. Their baggage limited their view of Jesus and they were scandalized by him.
They were so busy with packing and unpacking their baggage that they missed God in their midst. Their baggage got in the way of their ability to be open to God’s activity around them. Mark tells us that Jesus was only able to heal a few sick people, but do no great deeds of power while he was there.
I wonder about those few sick people. Were they desperate enough that they could let go of their baggage in hope of healing? Maybe the stories they had heard about Jesus’ ministry elsewhere was convincing enough that they could leave that suitcase in the closet and listen to Jesus with an open mind and heart? Maybe they had no baggage to get in the way. Perhaps their memories of Jesus, the boy, the teen, the young carpenter, was such that they could see him in his role as prophet, healer, teacher – maybe even as Messiah?
Whatever the reason, they were traveling light. Their hearts were open and they saw God’s activity around them, through them, for them as Jesus laid his hands on them and healed them.
So what gets in the way of us traveling light? What keeps us from seeing God’s activity around us? What slows us down and distracts us from the mission Jesus has sent us on – to proclaim the kingdom of God?
What’s packed in your suitcase?
· An old grudge that you can’t quite leave behind?
· Regrets over things packed in the past and chances not taken?
· Anger that gets carefully folded and tucked in the bottom of the suitcase?
· Hurt and pain overflowing so that you really have to squash it down to close the suitcase?
· Some addiction (and I don’t only mean drugs or alcohol here!) that is a ‘must pack’ item that would be better off discarded.
· Fear that faithfully travels with you wherever you go?
Take a minute and think about it.
This baggage can turn our focus away from God and onto ourselves. This baggage can blind us to God in our midst. This baggage can slow us down and distract us from the mission Jesus is calling us to.
The good news is this is all baggage that we can leave with the Father. Baggage that Jesus carried to the cross for us. Baggage that the Holy Spirit empowers and strengthens us to bear, enabling us to travel light to the places Jesus sends us.
Instead of heavy baggage, Jesus gives us just what we need for the journey, exactly what we need for the mission trip that he sends us on each day to our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, the world around us.
So, what is Jesus giving you to take with you? What might you find there waiting for you at the places Jesus is sending you every day?
These are the necessities for the journey that allows you to see the beauty and wonder of the Father’s activity in the world around you. These are the gifts Jesus gives you from his own power and authority to make you ready for the journey, to go where he sends you. These are the provisions of the Holy Spirit to make sure you have what you need each step of the way.
Travel light – be God’s healing hands to a world in pain.
Travel light - proclaim the good news of God’s love.
Leave your baggage here (pointing to the altar).