Matthew 28: 16-20
It’s the week after Easter
Jesus is risen, and the disciples are still in hiding
They are exhausted – and so is every minister across the land
From Palm Sunday to Easter there is a lot that goes on
Extra services, in church, for schools... sharing the events, leading the people through that week, when the world changed forever
And here we are at last – Easter is upon us. Yes, Easter is upon us- it’s far more than just one day – it is a season of 50 days, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, a season for celebrating new life in Christ.
Today’s reading comes up every three years in the lectionary, and usually is given for Trinity – the week after Pentecost. I checked back – I have NEVER preached on this passage! Usually I focus on what we mean by God as Father, Son & Holy Spirit, and not at all on Jesus’ Great Commission:
“Go, make disciples, baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and remember I am with you to the end of time.”
I find it hard to believe that in 15 years of preaching I’ve never preached on this, Jesus parting instruction to his disciples. The reading is in a different place in this new lectionary we are following... So here I go!
The first thing that strikes me in these final four verses of Matthew’s gospel is the phrase, “they worshipped him, but some doubted”. What a fabulous statement!!
They were still able to worship
They were still included in the great commission
They were still invited in
Even with their doubts
Even with their hesitation and insecurities
Jesus still took them, chose them, led them, blessed them.
So even with our uncertainties
Our fragile will and tentative loyalty
Jesus chooses us
We do not have to be sure
We do not have to know all the answers
Jesus takes us as we are, where we are, who we are – Jesus doesn’t exclude those who are not perfect – he embraces them!
So, today, as we hear that charge we know that it doesn’t matter if we feel less than able, less than ready – because God goes before us, caring, encouraging, leading ever forward – Jesus promised we’d never be alone, and the Spirit blesses our encounters and our journeying, whether we realise it or not.
What a perfect day then, to be welcoming a little one into God’s family
What a perfect day to encourage new parents with their own doubts and insecurities; with their own feelings of disbelief and uncertainty. It’s OK!
Jesus takes everyone
Those who know
And those who do not
Those who are sure and those who are not
Jesus enables amazing and wondrous things to happen
For Grace is ever present
We bring our children
We make promises we hope in, knowing as we do that we are frail and imperfect. That our determination will always be subject to challenge every step of the way.
Yet, even in this we have this reassurance
Jesus knows us, and blesses us anyway
So, as we remember our own baptismal vows today, as we have witnessed this family make their promises, we remember also, that we do not do it alone; we do not rely on our own strengths – we rely on God’s amazing and wondrous grace to lift us and guide us every day
Jesus called his disciples to go, share, and tell
Before they were able for it
While they still doubted
And we know they managed it
Because here we are
Because really it is the only thing to do!