Theme: “Grace, Love and Fellowship"
Bible reading “Matthew 28:16–20”
Dearly beloved, today is the first Sunday after Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit came to the Church. And even though the people who gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem on that occasion spoke many languages they all heard the same message; they heard the message of the good news of Christ; they heard the message of the grace of God; they heard the message of love; and they heard the message of fellowship Koinonia.
This experience of Pentecost was empowerment for the disciples to go into the whole world and do the bidding of Christ as he commissioned them to do–“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”.
The promise of Jesus to the fishermen by the Sea of Galilee who would soon become his disciples was to make them ‘fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19). This promise now takes on concrete form, and will lead them to places far away from their boats, nets, and fishes (Matthew 28:19).
When Jesus issued an earlier command to the disciples in Matthew 10:1–10, he specifically directed them as to where to go “Go nowhere among the gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But we now see that unlike the first sending of the disciples by the Lord which was restricted ethnically and geographically to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, this second sending which is the Great Commission was for them to go to the whole wide world to preach the good news of Christ to everyone indiscriminately.
The Great Commission is centered on “going” and “making” disciples. This has actually intensified “going” as part of the nature of discipleship. And so discipleship is going to the people and preaching the gospel to them and teaching them the way of Christ, while modeling and guiding them toward living righteously as followers of Jesus Christ.
Like the disciples, Christ is sending us also into the world to make disciples of all nations. This is a message that we need to hear in the church today. This because most of us do not see it as our duty to go and spread the good news of Christ to people out there in the streets and within our own communities and vicinities. Others are just shy or do not have the strength to do that.
Your reason (s) for not engaging in the spreading of the good news may be different from another person’s reason (s). Nevertheless, no matter your reason (s), you need to take Jesus’ call to us to “go” and “make” disciples of all nations seriously. In doing so, Jesus assures us of his ever-loving presence just as he was with those of the disciples of old. And his presence would ultimately transform our fear to courage; and intimidation to strength. You need to remember that when God sent Moses to Pharaoh, Moses lamented about his disability. But God gave him Aaron to be his spokesman and promised to be with him always. And what great results could Moses not achieved in his mission in Egypt?
Don’t forget that like the Disciples of Christ, the Holy Spirit is here to empower us too in our attempt to send the message of the gospel to people wherever they may be; whether far or near in order to win them for Christ. Can you attempt to challenge yourself to bring only one person to the Church this year? What joy and blessing would that be for you?
Of course, we all do know the affliction COVID–19 has brought into our world. But one thing we also do know is that it presents us with the opportunity for a greater desire for God and continuing fellowship with others. This is the time to show love more; this is the time to be more peace– loving; this is the time to forgive more; this is the time to pray more even for our enemies and those who persecute us; this is the time to reconcile with others without giving conditions; this is the time to stand united as families, communities, and church; this is the time to eschew hatred for people despite their fault or mistake; this is the time to do away with revenge despite people’s attitudes and actions against us; thisis the time to be there for one another. We need all this because life is truly becoming shorter than it ever was.
In all this, we are encouraged by the words of the Lord Jesus Christ that “A new commandment I give you that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:34). We need love in this world; we need love everywhere.
Today being Trinity Sunday, I pray that God’s grace will help us to be true Disciples of Christ in this broken world; may the Holy Spirit continue to empower us for God’s work and true fellowship with others; and may Christ grant us his everlasting peace in these troubling times.
As we continue to ‘enjoy’ whatever God blesses us with today, let us not forget to share in fellowship with those who have nothing–the homeless, the orphans, the refugees, etc.
This day is holy to our Lord. And even though we are grieving because of the devastation COVID– 19 has brought into our world, we need to continue trusting God for His mighty hand to deliver us just as He delivered us from the wars many years ago.
May the joy of the Lord remains your strength even in this difficult time!
Rev. Confidence Bansah (Ph.D.)
Minister of St. George’s and Christ Church URC