(Exodus 19:2-8a, Psalm 100, Romans 5:1-8)
(watch here: https://youtu.be/sg9NSuutgS0)
35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 10:1Then Jesus* summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;* 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him 5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”* 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers,* cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. 9Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town. 16‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Dads say the “funniest” things, both comically and absurdly. It’s true…dads say some of the strangest, most unusual things that you’ll ever hear. And they’re often said at the oddest of times, completely unexpected and completely unprompted. And yet the things that are said, the wisdom underlying what was said, almost invariably proves to be appropriate, applicable, and rather timely. Indeed, there IS a logic to what dad says after all!! Thus is the mystery of dads. They have this innate, preternatural ability to say things that are strange and comedic yet, at the same time, wise and timely.
Simply ask around and you’ll find any number of funny things that dads have said throughout the ages. Entire books and websites have been dedicated to collecting the “funny” things that have been said! I thought I’d share a few, perhaps some of which will sound all too familiar.
You couldn’t track an elephant in ten feet of snow. Ask your mother. The best way to double your money is to fold it and stick it in your pocket. It’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you save. Try to imagine how little I care.
Don’t save anything you don’t understand. Life gets better every day, if you let it. Always carry your driver’s license with you. It will make it easier for the police to identify your
body. Don’t make me stop this car. The car is not a playground. Don’t wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it better.
See?! The things our dads say to us can be both comedic and absurd at the same time! Indeed, they ARE some of the “funniest” things you’ll ever hear!
I couldn’t help thinking about these “funny” things while reflecting on our scripture readings assigned for this week. Whether you are or were privileged to have a father who was prone to saying “funny” things, we all have a heavenly Father who’s been telling us “funny” things since the beginning of creation. Our heavenly Father has been speaking to us for a long time now and the things He’s said, while not necessarily comedic by nature, have nonetheless challenged us at times. For a long time now, our Father has chosen people to speak to and through as a means of challenging us…strengthening us…helping us. In our first reading from Exodus, we meet up with Moses as he is leading the Israelites out of slavery to the Egyptians. They have made it safely to other side of the Red Sea while the trailing Egyptians perished. Moses led the Israelites to the foot of Mt. Sinai so that he might reconvene with God in the hopes of developing a strategy for leading his people through the wilderness. God says to Moses, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples.” Three days later, God calls Moses back to the mountain top and shares with him his ten commandments. For the first time ever, God establishes a law to govern our relationship with him and with each other.
Now imagine being one of those Israelites and hearing God’s commandments for the very first time…hearing God establish order through ten rather straightforward, easily understood rules…hearing Moses say, “if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples.” Funny, ha-ha? Funny, strange? Perhaps a little of both. What a “funny” thing to hear wisdom from the Father that is so simple yet so profound! What a “funny” thing to hear wisdom that is so true, so appropriate, so applicable to them and to US! Those mere ten commandments have challenged us, strengthened us, helped us for a long time and will hopefully challenge and strengthen and help us for a long time to come. It’s no wonder David has us sing out with “a joyful noise to the Lord” and “worship the Lord with gladness…enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever.” We, like the Israelites from so long ago, have been blessed with order and right relationship through God’s “funny” words.
As strengthening and helpful the Father’s words are, they are nevertheless challenging words. They challenge us to rethink our relationships with him and with each other. They are governing words. By that I mean they serve to guide and keep our words and actions in right relationship. We have sinful natures that are constantly trying to pull us out of right relationship with God and each other. We need governing words that challenge our sinful natures. We need governing words to help and strengthen us to overcome our sinful natures. A father’s words can do just that…our heavenly Father’s words most certainly do that! But with challenge often comes suffering. Listening and obeying a father’s words, especially our heavenly Father’s words, often produces great suffering both to ourselves and those around us. So we take comfort in the wisdom of Paul shared in his letter to the Romans: “we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” Suffering produces hope and hope, well, hope enables us to do and be greater than we could possibly imagine…to do and be as God wants us to do and be! Hope is a great and mighty gift from God! And hope is the product of suffering as Paul clearly illustrates.
Indeed, it is hope that enables us to go out into the world, teaching and proclaiming the Father’s good news and in the process healing many diseases and sicknesses that have afflicted this world. As we heard last week, each of us is commanded to go out into the world to baptize and teach the importance of obeying God’s words. Our gospel passage gives us Jesus’ teaching to his disciples on how they were to fulfill their commission, giving them authority to go to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He knew his disciples wouldn’t be received well by all those they reached out to. He knew they would suffer in their efforts to obey his commission. They, like us, will suffer when we proclaim the good news, cure the sick, and raise the dead. This world is full of sickness and death and resistance that will fight health and life and peace. There will be suffering! But we mustn’t fret…suffering produces HOPE!
As we set about our own wilderness through Pentecost, let us be challenged, strengthened, and helped by the Father’s words. After all, a father’s words are “funny” words, both comedic and absurd yet wise and encouraging at the same time. Let us remember that a father’s words can provide great hope. We are confident that our heavenly Father’s words do just that. Though “listening is hard to do” as my title suggests, the reward of hope far outweighs the suffering. With that said, I’ll leave you with a few more “funny” things said by our dads:
Do you think I’m a millionaire? Fair!? You want fair?? Fair’s where you take the cows and hogs and get blue ribbons.
I’d rather thank you than spank you. I’m not yelling at you. I’m helping you hear. If you don’t use your head, you might as well have feet at both ends. God gave you two ears and two eyes and only one mouth. If you see and hear twice as much as
you say, you’ll learn something. Let the saw do the work.
Always vote first thing in the morning, because, if during the day you step off the curb and get
hit by a car, your vote still counts. Don’t shake your head like there is nothing in it. Your mother is right even when she is wrong.
Good night. I love you, and I’ll see you in the morning.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.