Sunday, June 14, 2020 – Pentecost 2

June 14, 2020  

Pentecost 2   2020

Our Savior’s La Crosse

Matthew 9:35 – 10:8

They and their ancestors were kept as slaves. Working without income for the benefit of others, bent over by the burdens they carried (always for others), beaten by those they served, they and their ancestors were kept as slaves. The only hopes they had were whatever hopes they managed to keep burning like embers in their own hearts, hopes whispered, one person to another when no one else was listening. They were held captive in a foreign land. Where they lived was not the place they called home. What they did was not what they desired to do.

One day, a man appeared with his brother. The man spoke to the leader of the nation holding the people captive, telling the leader he needed to free those who were being kept as slaves. The leader said “No” to the man and his brother. The leader said “No, I will not let the people being kept as slaves free.” The man and his brother warned the leader there would be great suffering if the leader did not release the people being kept as slaves.. The leader continued to refuse to release them.

There was suffering. There were waves of suffering inflicted over and over again on the people who inhabited the land. No suffering provoked the leader to change his mind. Nothing. At least not until one night. On that one particular night the firstborn male of every family in the land was killed (except for the firstborn male of the people being kept as slaves; their firstborn sons were not killed). The dead included the firstborn son of the leader of the nation. Anguished, the leader told the man and his brother he would let go the people being kept. The people being kept as slaves were free.

If you aren’t familiar with this story you might expect that the free people would suddenly find happiness. You might expect that the free people would all find homes and establish their families and start businesses and live lives filled with joy. That’s not what happened.

Instead the free people struggled, year after year they struggled. Decade after decade. Finally, decades later, the free people were shown where their home would be. The free people were shown their promised land. But there was a catch! The man who asked the leader of the nation to let the people living as slaves go free—the man who for years had been leading the free people through the wilderness, toward their promised new home—he was not going to be able to go home with them. He was old. Soon, he would die.

The old man who remembered asking for the freedom of those who were kept as slaves but then were free, the old man who remembered leading the free people through the wilderness asked, “Who shall go before them? Who shall lead them?” He cried out “They will be like sheep without a shepherd!”


Jesus was traveling. Jesus was going here and there, through cities and villages. Jesus was teaching people in their holy places, telling them the good news. Jesus was curing people of diseases and sicknesses.

The people that Jesus was teaching, the people Jesus was telling the good news, the people Jesus was healing… they were the children’s children’s children’s children’s children of the people who had been kept as slaves and then were free. Jesus saw that they were suffering. Jesus saw that they were harassed. Jesus said to himself: “They are like sheep without a shepherd.”


When I read the gospel reading for today I read the rest of the story. After seeing that the Israelites were like sheep without a shepherd “Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness” (Matthew 10:1).

I know what we have been taught, especially most all of those of us who are gathered wherever we are today who are white. We have been taught– we think—“WE need to go and cast out those unclean spirits! WE need to cure those diseases!

That is God’s call for every believer.

But, rather than hear our call to be DISCIPLES of the Shepherd, we tend to jump right in and think we are all shepherds. Better yet, some of us think we are called to be like Moses, called to free the suffering people from their slavery.

We are NOT Moses. We are NOT shepherds. Thinking of ourselves as Moses, thinking of ourselves as shepherds leads to thinking of ourselves as saviors. We are not saviors.

We are sheep. We are sinful, unclean sheep. Just like every other child of God, we are captive to sin and we cannot free ourselves.

We need a shepherd. We need a savior.

We need Jesus.


This is my sin.

I used to be the executive director of a local non-profit. I ran a food bank dedicated to feeding people who lived with hunger in their bellies. In all the years I had that job, I don’t think I ever asked anybody if food was what they needed. I don’t think I ever listened. I just assumed I knew.

This is my sin.

When disaster strikes, I want to run in and fix things. That’s what I do: I fix things. I don’t even ask what needs to be fixed! I certainly never imagined the people hurt the most might have a better idea than me what needs to be done to fix the damage. I’ve got to DO something!!! And so I go and I fix.


The past few weeks have shown the world over and over again what has been known for centuries—there is a disease that needs to be healed, and I’m not talking about the Corona Virus.

I’m talking about racism.

Over and over again we see in scripture what we read that Jesus said in today’s gospel verses: disease and evil; evil and disease. They are twin children of the same devil.

I believe there are diseases that are evil and I think there are evils that are disease.

Racism is both.

Racism is a sin we must confess. Racism is a disease that must be cured. We make a mistake if we think we can jump and “fix things” without first confessing.

We are making a mistake if we jump and start doing this and doing that, getting busy, before we have turned our eyes inward and started examining our own lives, our own souls. After that we need to turn our eyes outward and examine all that we as a people have done for centuries to create unjust systems that hold others captive.

To do those things…

We need Jesus.

We need Jesus to forgive us.

That’s where the road to freedom begins for us.

Then, like every other lamb in Jesus’ flock, we need the listen to the folks who have suffered because of racism as they lead us forward.

And we all need Jesus to lead us.

We all need Jesus to guide us.