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Rich Man, Poor Man

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The Gift of Freedom

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A Hidden Wholeness

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Are you ready for harvest?

18 June, 2017 Matthew 9:35-10:8 Pentecost 2 By Rev Paul Dau

Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.


Agriculture forms and plays an important role in humans' lives since the time of creation. It contributes to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of many societies. In Jesus’ time, many people were fairly accustomed to farming and so it is not unintentional that he uses this language in Matthew. He was using an analogy that was fairly understandable to his listeners. Today, technology and science concepts or language can fairly be understood by many.

That is not to say agriculture is not important now. In Australia, there are about 134,000 farm businesses, 99% of which are Australian owned. An Australian farmer produces enough food to feed 600 people, 150 at home and 450 overseas. Australian farmers produce almost 93% of Australia’s daily domestic food supply. As of 2010-11, 307,000 people were employed in the agriculture sector. Overall, 3% of our GDP comes from agriculture. (National Farmers Federation).

This morning, Jesus gives us the notion that the harvest is plentiful but the harvesters are few. But really one has to pause and ask what does Jesus mean? He is talking about those who will bring people into his Kingdom. This text is within Jesus’ wider focus on mission in the world.

Today, many Christians are still intimidated and killed because of their faith. Egypt and Libya in North Africa and many parts of the Middle East are just a living example where execution of Christians still exists in large degree.

When Jesus spoke these words, the Israelites had gone through years of bad leadership and people suffered a lot. It is within this context that Jesus was led to be moved with compassion and love toward the crowds. Today, many would assume that the work of mission is ministers’ work. Or is the work of the people assigned to it. That notion is challenged and Jesus is reminding us that this is each and every one's work.

At present, about 32% of the people living in this world are Christians. On average, only 3 out of every 10 people are Christians. Think about that the next time you find yourself in a crowd of people. Whether it is at the shopping center, a major sporting event, or held in traffic. We are to share Christ’s Good News with all.

How can we do it? Jesus says, ask the Lord to send out workers. That is something we do in different ways most of the time. Another thing Jesus tells us is, freely have you received, freely give. That is something we do in our offerings; our offerings of time, talents, and treasures.

The harvest fields are ready, the harvest is waiting. You can sense the urgency here and it is upon us to hear the call. TUC has always had so many mission objectives past and present. But even with the development of mission activities we already had, we still have massive mission work ahead.

Remember, fields cannot harvest themselves. The farmer still had to get out there and go to work or send out workers to do the work for him. During his mission, Jesus worked diligently to get the message out. He knew that the eternal well-being of souls was needed.

For more than 2,000 years now, the fields are still ready, the harvest is still waiting, and those fields still aren’t going to harvest themselves,, they need harvesters. Ask yourself, who are the contemporary harvesters? What do you need to do to have fulfilled your missional work? How does missional work relate to humanity (i.e. physical v. spiritual needs)?

In my view, contemporary missional workers equal individual parishioner, congregation or parish, presbytery, synod etc. The work done by these groups takes money and giving money involves making sacrifices elsewhere and in today’s economy, I am not sure how much more one can really afford to give.

We all know that any farmer who stores up grain for him/herself and doesn’t plant it will soon find that grain running out. But the farmer who takes a little step of faith and sows that grain into his field will soon find that grain growing and producing an abundant harvest many times. That is the way God would want us to see and use the blessings he has given us.

I think we can easily make sense of that, generosity that results in thanksgiving to God! That is what our offerings are about! Every year God moved the hearts of the people to give to TUC the gifts in terms of money and materials and at the same time, TUC gave money and materials away to others and this forms the basis of our fellowship with others whether they share our faith or not.

For generations, that is how God has led the people to look beyond their own walls to see and share the blessings with the world. That is how God has led us to see just how ready the harvest is and how few the workers are; and not just pray about it but do something about it, so that lost sheep may be brought into the gathered people of God.

Whether you want to give more or less or not at all is up to you. God doesn’t want offerings that are given reluctantly or under compulsion. God wants cheerful giving from thankful hearts. Thankful hearts that “know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich”.

Sometimes, we have been more hesitant about our physical rather than the spiritual needs. Where we have nice homes, he had no place to lay his head. Where we can travel from place to place in air-conditioned comfort, he travelled by foot and endured the heat of the day to get the message of the gospel out. The message that “The kingdom of heaven is near”; and along with it the encouragement to repent and believe the good news that Jesus is the Saviour of all people.

Jesus has saved us by carrying our sins to the cross where he suffered and died to forgive them. He assures us of a heavenly home where we will dine together with him and all believers for all eternity.

Similarly, he encourages and motivates cheerful giving from thankful hearts. We all know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ because of faithful parents, family, friends, pastors, teachers, people who cared enough about you to take the time to share the message that truly matters most in life. It doesn’t take much to see how richly God has blessed us and the many opportunities he sets before us so that we might be a blessing to others. Whether it’s your time, your talents, your treasures, all these offerings result in thanksgiving to God.

Many of us are well aware that the current economy is not favourable, yet history tells us that some of the greatest giving has happened during the Great Depression or the GFC of 2008 or at a time of great disasters like the 2004 tsunami. Ask anyone who lived through them and they will probably tell you that. As we speak, there is a major famine declared in countries like South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen. Many people living in those countries cannot survive without the generosity of the global community.

Brothers and sisters, the Harvest is Plentiful but the Workers are Few. Ask the Lord to send out workers. And remember, freely have you received, freely give. And pray, praise and give thanks, knowing that you may be one person who is on a pilgrimage of people walking together and working together as one in mission and purpose. Amen.

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