After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, `Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.'
"Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."
The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
When I was in seminary doing CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at University Hospital in Boston, we were paired up and assigned to specific floors. When my partner and I went out on our first day, we did everything right, introducing ourselves to all our patients and their families. We were not received terribly well. At the end of the introductions we found out that we had been on the wrong floor the Whole time. As we collapsed in laughter, I was so grateful to have someone to share the joys and sorrows of ministry with, a human companion to help out on the journey.
Jesus sent them out two by two, modeling for all of us that none can do our ministry alone. No matter how tough and resilient we are, we need companions and community to grow in faith. We need folks to lift us up when we are falling and to remind us of God's love for us. We need one another, and the witness of the elders and the ancestors to remind us of the Creator's faithfulness throughout our whole history. We are invited today to remember we are never singing or dancing alone, neither are we weeping or fearful by ourselves.
Today I ask God to help me rely on the community and to offer myself to the community also. May we remind one another that we are not walking this faith road alone, but are surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses. God is faithful in the midst of us, giving us joy and humor when we fall, and lifting us up so that we can continue on the road.
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.