This word from the Lord promises a healing in the aftermath of hurt. After breaking comes re-making. After the crisis comes a re-creating. We pray with hope for God’s grace. O God be merciful to us, for we long for you to make us whole again. We long to be made whole again.
What does it mean to pray? What does it mean to pray to God, God the creator of all, the God of Jesus, the God of David, the God of Mary? What does it mean to pray? One of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century tells us that prayer is something that “exerts an influence upon God’s very existence”–that prayer changes the very nature of God’s existence. So prayer – a conversation – between the one who speaks and the one who listens has the capacity to change God and us.
Consider the lilies. If you remember just one thing from today’s sermon, I want you to remember that each of us is a beautiful flower in God’s kingdom garden. Each of us has been given grace to bloom where we are planted, even more glorious than Solomon, more grand than the richest ruler we could imagine. Look around. We are all God’s magnificent flowers. It’s true. Remember that if nothing else.
In the Gospel today, Jesus sends out 70 followers on a mission trip. They are to go and proclaim the nearness of God’s kingdom, to heal the sick and cast out demons as signs of that nearness. They are sent to share peace and fellowship with any who are receptive. At the end of today’s lesson, the 70 return with joy reporting that even the demons submitted to them in Jesus’ name. Jesus rejoices with them but ends by saying this, “do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you…rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Your names are written in heaven.
Today’s reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians has echoes of this. Paul writes these famous words, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ, there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” The words of the hymn say it so wonderfully, “In Christ there is no East or West, in Him no South or North, but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth.” We’re going to sing that one at the end of the service. As today is June 19, we remember the delayed freedom of the slaves in Texas, 151 years later, we remember that freedom is still delayed for many in our nation, many in our world.