Matthew 9:36: ‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’
Jesus was a great storyteller; he knew that the power of a good story could change lives. But in today’s gospel reading he is not telling a story; he is describing the reality he sees before him. Jesus looks with compassion at the crowds, harassed and helpless, and he asks his disciples to imagine a new story and themselves as story tellers.
When we live in a story that seems to determine the future there is a danger that we will feel trapped thinking that things can never change. That can be true of our own personal life stories.
Crowds that are harassed and helpless are becoming a feature of our time. Whether protesting Covid 19 lockdown or the more recent ‘Black Lives Matter’, we see crowds of people who are angry and harassed because they feel helpless and when we feel helpless, we feel vulnerable and unable to control anything within our world.
This in turn engenders resentment and rage. Perhaps this is what lies behind the Black Lives matter movement; when the story of a people is one of discrimination and oppression it is time that this story was heard and changed. It is a tale as old as the Bible itself, the book of Exodus tells a story of a people in slavery who are finally delivered into freedom through divine activity.
The story Jesus wants his disciples to recall, is that we are called to be kingdom partners with God and with his authority to be a healing presence amid confusion. Not pretending we have all the answers but neither failing in our call to pray and share peace.
St. Paul writes about this in an ancient letter to a group of Christians in Rome, he speaks of the peace we have with God because of the work of Jesus and with this we are reminded that our story has been rewritten.
Our stories have been caught up in the story of God in his world. Vs. 5: ‘His love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’
We can be part of the stories of others with that same good news.
Around 20 of us are still meeting on Sunday morning at 10am for a service via Zoom. It is an encouraging point of contact for us all in these lockdown times. If you would like to try it out then please join us and me know so that I can send an invitation. You would be most welcome.