The Beauty of Simplicity

As I write this article, our family is preparing to head up to the great north for our annual family vacation. I hope you are able to enjoy some quality time during these beautiful days of summer that God has given us to enjoy.

Packing for a trip is both an art and a science. The science is in figuring out ahead of time what you will need, and the art is getting your items organized so they will be accessible and in good condition upon arrival.

I always over-pack. It doesn’t matter how far I am traveling, I will manage to fill that bag full of all the things I think I might need for my trip. I always start with the necessities, but I somehow manage to add more items along the way. This results in an over-full bag. I am always a little ashamed when I return from the trip and see how many things I thought I needed, but really didn’t.

In Luke’s gospel this weekend, Jesus sends the seventy two out to the towns to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Jesus doesn’t leave it to them to figure out the packing for this journey but rather gives them specific instructions:

“Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.”

Jesus is telling His followers to pack light for their spiritual journey. But why?

Jesus is all about mission. He came to do the will of the Father. Jesus is sending His followers out, not to take a vacation, but to be about this important mission. The packing instructions he gives are clear, simple and focused on the work they are being sent to do. Jesus does not want His followers to be encumbered by too many possessions. These would only weigh them down and cause them to lose focus on the mission at hand. In this gospel, Jesus offers very practical advice for His followers and for us – pack light!

Each of us is on a spiritual journey. God is calling us, challenging us, blessing us, healing us and sometimes chastising us throughout our lifetime. All of God’s actions in our lives are designed to bring us into closer union with Him. With all of the noise around us in our world, it can be challenging for us to hear God’s voice. Many of us (myself included) are accustomed to being “dialed in” to something electronic. Whether it is our cell phones, iPads, laptops, music, videos, or movies, we are all challenged to break free of the electronic devices and just settle in with the Lord. Jesus is calling us to consider these packing instructions for our own lives. They are particularly important when speaking of our spiritual journey and the specific work God has for us to do in our earthly life.

Anne and I recently had some good friends over for an evening. We made a conscious decision to keep the evening simple, so the focus would be on our conversation and not on preparing a fancy meal. We opted to do a wine and cheese evening. I picked up a few simple cheeses, some crackers and bread, and a nice bottle of wine. As we expected, we had a great evening of wonderful conversation with our dear friends. The simplicity of the food allowed us to just enjoy each other’s company. As we were saying our goodbyes, our friends remarked about how much they enjoyed the simple offering of wine and cheese.

Jesus invites us to come to Him just as we are. He knows our wounds, our hurts, our struggles, and he also knows the beauty inside each of us. Jesus wants to be that honored guest at our wine and cheese party, or our peanut butter and jelly sandwich party! Jesus knows exactly what we need. Like the thoughtful guest, he brings just what is needed to make our time together a success. When we start trying to complicate things, we lose focus and we leave Jesus sitting at our table with no one to talk to. Jesus is calling us into a beautiful relationship with Him. When we set down the heavy bag of worldly cares and distractions, we are able to enter into the space where he waits for us.

This weekend we celebrate the gift of freedom. It is a time to relax in God’s creation and remember the price that was paid for the freedom we enjoy. Whether it is a simple picnic at the park or a day spent at the lake, my hope is that we will each take a moment to thank our Creator for His goodness. These summer days are precious. We see God’s rich beauty in Technicolor splendor. May it inspire wonder, awe and a newfound sense of the love that surrounds us.

God Bless You!

Deacon Tim

 

 

 

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