Monday, January 31, 2011

Traveling Light

I first traveled alone in 1963. I was 14 years old and my mother put me on the Greyhound Express from Cleveland, Ohio to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I went to visit my Aunt Lola, Uncle Jim and my cousins, Pat and Jaime, who my brother and I had grown up with. Many years have passed and the only one left in that part of the family now is my cousin Pat. On that trip, I am sure that I had a suitcase, but I don't remember much about it. What I remember is the time with my family as well as the transformative and healing experiences.

That past journey came to mind as I returned from some recent renewal time. I experienced a similar transformation. But this time I was very aware of my baggage. It was very heavy. I had to give a lot of attention to be sure it was where it was supposed to be. And I really questioned whether I could have had just as wonderful of an experience without it all.

LET'S FREE OURSELVES OF THE BAGGAGE

In our scripture focus, we find Jesus' disciples being sent on a journey to renew, heal and bring to those they encountered a call to repentance and a demonstration of the presence of God. I was struck by Jesus' instruction to them to take as little as possible for the journey. No excess baggage. Not food nor money nor any extra clothes. They were to focus on the mission before them and trust God, working through people to provide their needs. Without baggage, they would be free to move around, to give their attention to the people around them instead of having to be concerned about their own stuff. And, we are told, they did indeed accomplish what they were sent out to do.

LET'S LIGHTEN THE SPIRITUAL LOAD AS WELL

It occurred to me that we, as disciples of Jesus Christ today, still need to travel light. Not just in terms of the amount of physical baggage we take on our various mission journeys and ministries. I believe this command from Jesus to his disciples was about not only their physical -- but their spiritual baggage -- and ours, as well.

In order for the disciples to meet people where they were, they had to take only the essentials of the spirit with them. Essentials like the truth that Jesus loved each person they met and that love had the power to heal and transform. As simple as it is, I believe this is the essential truth of our faith. Jesus indicated that some people might not be ready to receive the word and witness of Jesus' disciples. But they were to travel light and go anyway.

I had an opportunity to hear the testimony of a young woman recently who teaches exercise. She wanted to do something to help children at risk. She received the opportunity to teach at a center for teenaged ex-prostitutes and drug addicts – mostly children of African American and Latino descent. She described the hour of her first class with these young people. They were full of disrespect and rebelliousness. She was afraid and angry. As she wrote them off on her way out of that first class, she judged that they were a lost cause until she had a revelation. She realized that she, as she described herself, "bouncy-haired white girl that she was," was just like them. Angry, disrespectful and rebellious. And that indeed, she and they were one in spirit. She was able to return to them with the essentials – respect, love and acceptance. She had taken some baggage into the class that affected her ability to do what God had called her to do. Once she released her internal spiritual baggage, she was able to teach and learn; and has now realized a gift for working with young people with the most need for love and respect.

So too, as we let go of our internal baggage and gain the ability to recognize within others the human thread that binds us, no matter how different from one another we may first appear, we can see the resulting miracles in the lives of others and in our own.

Jesus love us, this we know. Because the Bible tells us so.

Let us travel a little lighter this year as we go out for Christ.

---Peace and blessings, Bishop Linda Lee, WI Ann Conf
God Is Still In Control!
Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer
UMCGiving.org

1 comment:

Whitey Lawful said...
This comment has been removed by the author.