A Sent People

We celebrated our fifth Kairos Feast last weekend. October 2010 saw the launch of Kairos – sent out by the then Diocese of Ripon and Leeds to release communities of followers in the mission of Jesus. We’ve come a long way, lots has happened, we’ve learnt loads and there is still more to come. On Sunday at our Feast Gathering I spoke from John 20:19-23.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
I like the word ‘sent’. When Jesus appears to the disciples he says to them “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Jesus recognised that he had been sent – sent as God ‘incarnate’ – God with us – one of us. He then sends us in the same way as he is sent – to be ‘incarnational’ amongst others, even ready to die for them, laying down our lives. This sense of a sent God who sends us is very important for those of us participating in Kairos.
What can we understand about our ‘sentness’ from this?
  1. Being sent is about REJECTING FEAR
God isn’t afraid to send – weak wimpy broken people throughout the bible are sent. But we are often afraid of being sent (“what me? I can’t possible be sent – that’s for other people!!!”) Fear can take hold of us, fear of all sorts of things, which can prevent us from participating in God’s sending work.
We can end up locked in by fear, like the disciples, but incredibly the ‘sending’ moment still comes – why? Two reasons: 1) Because Jesus is risen 2) they, even in their fear, were persisting in gathering together. Fear can breed isolation – we can reject fear by staying open to the community of others. Let’s not give up gathering together!
  1. Being sent is about the REVEALING OF JESUS
He comes amongst us – showing himself – revealing the intimate wounds that represent and reveal the costly sending that was accomplished as God so loved the world that he sent his only son…….
My experience of being sent to Harrogate involved me having to reject the fear of the unknown and uncertain, the fear of missing out on more high profile ministry opportunities, the fear of what it would put my family through to move away from established support systems etc
When I was locked into the upper room of my fear Jesus revealed himself to me.
  1. Being sent is also about RECOGNITION
The revelation of Jesus in my life is nothing without a response. My response to Jesus’s revelation was recognition: and whenever he reveals himself to me there is joy. I feel genuinely joyful when I recognise Jesus’s revealing work – it is wonderful! I love seeing when you experience those moments of revelation and seeing on your faces the recognition that Jesus is up to something!!
John tells us that the disciples “….rejoiced when they saw him.”
Karl Barth said the ‘perception of the living God is rare” – recognising Jesus is to do with perceiving him – sadly recognising or perceiving God is something that doesn’t always automatically follow on after he has revealed himself.
We miss it, or continue to allow fear to get in the way of truly recognising him, because in recognising him we are drawn to follow obediently.
Joy is a fantastic thing – Jesus went through all he went through for the sake of the joy set before him – recognising Jesus means we get joy that motivates us on.
The most vibrant and attractive churches are rejoicing churches. The joy of the Lord is our strength we are told in Nehemiah – let’s en-joy him by rejecting fear and recognising his revelation.
  1. Being sent is also about RECEIVING
Jesus said they were sent because he was sent & then breathed on them and said receive the Holy Spirit.
My first thought about this is ‘yuk!’ I don’t like being breathed on…. way too intimate….. the 1st Century AD is not famed for it’s oral hygiene! Now maybe Jesus by then had had some resurrection breath freshening, I guess his body was perfect apart from the crucifixion scars but I do know that other Gospel writers talk about him eating fish…… fish breath [shudder]……
Being sent is not comfortable! Jesus invades their space, breathes on them.
Jesus is making a link with the Hebrew RUACH – you get to receive the breath of God and to breath the breath of God on others.
In being ‘sent’ we embrace a lifestyle of Spirit-ledness – peaceful in him, but uncomfortable in relation to being ‘incarnate’ – amongst others, dying to our own inconvenience and preferences for the sake of being ‘sent’.
Furthermore Jesus says “Receive the Holy Spirit”.
He is being deliberate – I think he is wanting us to be deliberate and willing to receive. Those who are sent willingly receive the Holy Spirit. Do you?
The consequence of receiving the Holy Spirit is authority – Jesus makes the link with forgiving sins. We are being released to do the works of heaven here on earth…..
People who make a real difference – sent people!
I want to encourage you to rejoice – especially at this time. You are the sent-ones of a sending God. You don’t need to be afraid.
He will reveal himself to you.
Will you recognise him and receive?

Mark & Ben