I am usually a light packer, but that means starting to pack days before the trip, lots of planning, and taking things out as I realize I can get along without them. If I’m flying, I limit myself to one bag and a tote for my laptop and camera. Even so, some of the things that usually make the final cut for a 10-day trip are one jacket (you never know when it might rain or turn chilly), one sweater, two pairs of pants, one dress, three or four shirts, toiletries in tiny bottles, soap for washing out clothes each night.
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ [From Luke 10]
Jesus wants the seventy to take far less, as in nothing—no money, no anything—just what they happen to be wearing. They are to be dependent on the kindness of strangers.
Hmmm. My control issues are a little strong for that. I’d probably at least stuff some underwear and shampoo into my pockets and hope he wouldn’t notice.
These followers are sent out as lambs among wolves; they will find out just who their friends are. Their friends are the ones who will welcome them, whether they are known to each other or not.
The disciples are to enter a home and declare peace to those who inhabit it. And even though in ancient Palestine hospitality is highly valued, not everyone will welcome those who bring peace. There are some homes and some communities in which peace is spurned because it may mean giving up power over others or may be perceived as weakness. If the residents are not willing to hear the words of peace, then the disciples will move on to some other place where peace is welcomed.
Jesus tells the seventy to receive whatever hospitality is offered. That’s odd. We expect to be told to share hospitality, not to receive it. How happy we are when someone thanks us for a nice meal or is grateful to have a place to stay. When the worshiping community extends hospitality to the stranger, the person on the margins, the immigrant, that community finds itself warmed and renewed by the act of giving.
And yet, receiving is also a gift to oneself and to the giver. Some of the most memorable travel moments I’ve ever experienced happened in some of the poorest places, when my friends and I were offered a simple meal of homemade tortillas, bananas and papayas picked from village trees, and ice cold Coke bought from the local tienda.
Thousands of miles from home, we were served a meal that transcended language and culture with its hospitality and welcome. It was more than we could have asked or expected, and it made us feel at home.
Jesus knew what he was doing when he sent out the seventy in twos. We don’t have to go to a foreign country to be on the journey together. We share memories and adventures. Sometimes we remember the wolves, and can laugh together at the ones who were mean but not really dangerous. We encourage each other to watch out for the truly alarming. But mostly, we talk about those lovely situations where we were given incredible hospitality, where we were welcomed. Sometimes it is hard for us to accept those gifts of hospitality, for we have been trained to give rather than to receive. But Jesus wanted the seventy to know the joy of receiving.
© 2016, Melissa Bane Sevier