“Nekkid” discipleship

Psalm 97, 99, [100] (Morning)

Psalm 94, [95] (Evening)

Ezekiel 7:10-15,23b-27;

Hebrews 6:13-20

Luke 10:1-17

Luke 10:1-17 NRSV: 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.’ I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. “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!”

Our little group who meets for Morning Prayer on Wednesday mornings at my home church sometimes chats as long or longer after the service as the service lasted. We got to talking about the classic dreams that everyone has seemed to have one version or another of at some time. The “exam dream” is one of them. Seems like almost everyone has had some version of it–the dreamer never studied all semester and is taking the final, and all sorts of weirdness occurs, like “can’t find the room/door’s locked,” “starts to take the exam and it is in a foreign language,” etc. It also seems that everyone has had the “naked” dream sometime, also–where the dreamer is in some public place and suddenly realizes he or she is naked.

I had to admit I’ve had the “naked exam dream”–where I was taking the final in the course I had not studied all semester, and as I finish, I look up, look around–and realize I’m stark bare-butt naked.

Well, Jesus might as well have told the disciples, “Go naked.” (or as we say in these parts, “nekkid.”) What, no extra shirt? No backpack? No extra pair of shoes? No bedroll? No little pot for cooking? No money? No mention of anything for self-defense, either. The modern version would probably also include no smartphone, no iPad, and no GPS, to boot.

Whether it’s halfway across the globe, or right in our own neighborhoods, being a disciple of Jesus does come with the sensations of feeling underclothed and under-equipped. It requires going out of our comfort zone, whether that comfort is socioeconomic, demographic, or geographic. It can feel a little like being thrown into an immersion-style language class. We learn by trying things out, doing it wrong, observing how things work around us, accepting correction, and trying again. The reality is that this requires some degree of spiritual and emotional nakedness. As we take on new aspects of who we are as disciples…well…being clothed with all our usual stuff just prevents us from feeling the new clothes next to our skin.

Discipleship isn’t always hearts and flowers with those closest to us. Jesus makes it clear that it may well have the exact opposite effect.

Jesus’ instructions are simple and still applicable 2000 years later: Go where it leads us, stay with who will have us, and when no one seems to desire what we have to offer, move on. That last part may well be the hardest. Our human nature is to be liked, appreciated and welcomed. Rejection hurts. Today’s Gospel reading makes an important clarification, though. What’s being rejected isn’t so much us as it is something bigger than us–the peace of Christ.

What aspect of discipleship feels a little naked to you, or at the very least, a little under-dressed?

Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid

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