From the Pulpitt:
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!’
Luke 10:1-5 NRSV
“The harvest is plentiful, but the Laborers are few...”
by Rev. Rick Pittenger, Jr.
That sounds like bad news for a title but it’s really not. Read on…I was driving down the highway as I often do. Trips to Sioux Falls, Yankton, Elk Point, North Sioux City and Wakonda just to name a few. As you’ve noticed, Harvest is in full swing as clouds of dust fill the air and sometimes it’s been so windy it almost provides zero visibility along the interstate.
I went to lunch recently with a pastor friend. I got there early (I know right?). Anyway, I enjoy watching people when I’m just sitting in public. Some pastors have the gift of mingling in any situation. You might be surprised to learn that I’m more of an observer than a mingler. Oh, I might mingle a little in church fellowship halls, but not as much as some of my friends.
Anyway, as I sat in the booth by the window with my back to a small portion of the restaurant, I was able to observe the people as they would come in. It was surprising to me that so many people were meeting someone else. Only a few came in together; most entered the restaurant alone and looked around for their friends.
The first to enter was a young lady. She noticed that all the booths were taken, and sure for a moment I felt like I should move to give up my/our booth for her. I stayed put. She took off her coat and slung it on the back of her chair as she sat down. Next was an older lady probably in her late 60’s early 70’s. She sat down and when she saw her friend enter she stood up and gave her a warm embrace. A short time later another lady joined them. There wasn’t the same reaction for her, just a quick handshake; as she sat down with not even a smile, she joined their completed table. Next was a young business man, a white-collar worker, and sure enough a woman joined him with a handshake and a satchel filled with papers was placed on the table as they sat to talk some business. Oh, I almost forgot, the first lady of my story met her husband or boyfriend with a warm embrace shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, I waited patiently at my booth.
When my friend finally arrived I was sharing with him how it had been interesting to watch all the people interact with the waitress as they waited for their party to arrive. Some seemed comfortable, others were obviously uncomfortable as they fidgeted with their cell phones, or the paper or looked at their watches as they waited.
Jesus sent the followers out, some 70, all in all. He sent them out in groups of 2, maybe fulfilling his own prophecy “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there in their midst”.
In a world of larger and larger farms and all the modern ways of harvest it seems that fewer and fewer do more and more of the harvesting. That’s not only true on the fields of the Dakota Prairies but it also is true when it comes to the bountiful gifts that are out there for the church.
I’m reminded of the pastor who on stewardship Sunday announced that he had bad news and he had some very good news. The good news first; we’ve got more than enough money to meet our church budget and it’s amazing what all we can do in outreach in our community with our united gifts to this church and its ministries. The bad news is – we haven’t GIVEN IT YET! There are lots of places to invest in life and even after our deaths. I’m hoping as you witness the needs of our church community that you might consider the church as one way to help meet those needs. And it’s not just financial. For example:
On Tuesday afternoon we’ve started a “Living the Question Group” for College aged young adults. We’ve had 6 different people join us from 4-6 PM and we end with a meal. Every Wednesday night our church has a group of young people that come to youth group. I need a volunteer, actually two or more, that might be willing to take turns to bring in supper for the youth. Normally we have anywhere from 10-20 youth on any given Wednesday night. Maybe God is calling you to that ministry. Also on Wednesday night we have choir rehearsals. The Adult Choir is at 5:30 and we’re starting work on our
Christmas Cantata for I think the second week in December; so there is still time for you to join us. Praise-band starts at about 7:15 most Wednesdays. There is a “Living the Question” study group that meets on Wednesday night at 6:30-8 PM – it’s a great time to have your faith stretched. The Welcome Table is a ministry that takes place in our church on Monday nights. You’d be welcome to join us for this meal @ 5:30-7 PM. You can come to work and if we don’t need your help that night you can just eat! Or you could provide cookies, bars, goodies after church on a Sunday morning and make the coffee; or one or two of you or a group of you could “sponsor” a Monday night Welcome Table Meal – John can usually get a meal together for about $250. Maybe you’re an early riser and would like to join the Friday Morning Book Club that meets at 6:45-8 AM for breakfast and discussion. Maybe you’re an extrovert and a great mingler… you could be an usher and/or greeter or even a scripture reader on Sunday Morning. Maybe you could be on a list to give a ride to a person who needs to get to Sioux Falls for meetings. Or you could be one of our volunteers to bring meals on wheels to the needy in our community. Or maybe, just maybe; you’d like to start a new exercise group, *study, ministry that you think is needed. (*Jan Petersen is just starting a new study on Thursday nights at 6:30 entitled Breathe: making room for Sabbath by Priscilla Shirer.)
Yes, the Harvest is Plentiful… and so I pray to the Lord of the Harvest that we’ll have enough laborers to get the job done.
Join me “in the field” as together we begin the harvest,