Daily Devotion – June 27, 2020 – Bishop Larry Wohlrabe

Matthew 10:40-42 (gospel for June 28,2020)

[Jesus said to his followers] “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me….and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Seven weeks from today our Eastern ND Synod will meet in an all-digital synod assembly, under the theme: “Living Well.”

“Living Well.”   

This synod assembly theme was chosen months ago, long before the coronavirus pandemic hit…our economy turned south…and our country erupted into civil unrest touched off by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

At first blush, “Living Well” sounds so out-of-sync right now, when so much of what we associate with “wellness” seems in jeopardy.

A couple of us even wondered about scrapping this theme in favor of something more attuned to the tenor of these dark times…

…except that doing so would be to ignore God’s brand of “living well”….Jesus’ kind of “abundant life”…which always surprises us, like an unexpected gift.

God’s version of “living well” doesn’t depend on our mood or our feelings or the state of the world.

Jesus’ gift of “abundant life” is always about God meeting us in our mess, and fashioning out of that mess a new creation.

Take the words I just read from Matthew 10.  Who was Jesus addressing here?

Jesus was speaking to his 12 disciples, just before sending them off—to fan out across the land declaring far and wide that “the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

This world-turning message, however, would face huge opposition.      “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves….” Jesus warned his followers—saying, in effect, that they were going to be like fresh mutton being tossed to ravenous predators…..

Embracing such danger, the disciples sallied forth, trusting Jesus’ promise that God would go with them—accompanying them every step of the way.

Fully aware of how messed up this world really is…Jesus promised his vulnerable followers that “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me.”

This is what Jesus calls “living well”—speaking God’s promises to unbelievers, “betting the farm” that God will always bring good out of evil.

This is the kind of “Living Well” hundreds of voting members will focus on seven weeks from today when our synod assembly begins…allowing us to sing our praises, tend our business, call forth a new bishop, and celebrate all the ways that even in this pandemic “the kingdom of God is still coming near.”

One tangible token that we’re “Living Well” in God’s tender care will be the offering we’ll receive during our assembly…an offering that—like a cup of cold water shared with a little one—will express care for our companion synod in the Central African Republic, as well as our sisters  and brothers in the South Sudan Lutheran Church of Fargo.

That, my friends, is what Christ’s way of “Living Well” looks like!