This past weekend was full of history — personal history — for me. I went up and spent a few days in my hometown, Coleridge, in northeast Nebraska. Saturday night was the all-class reunion they have periodically, and also my ten year high school reunion — it’s amazing to see how people change and where they end up. It’s a blessing to me to look back and see the path my own life has taken since then. How much has changed.
The other big reason I went home was actually to preach in my home church. It was a little disconcerting at first to be standing on the other side of the pulpit I’ve been staring at for nearly three decades, addressing a congregation that’s known me since I was in diapers. But it was thrilling, too, to be preaching in the very same church where my great-great-grandfather was pastor, and where generation after generation of my family has belonged since then. Every time I set foot in that sanctuary, I feel the depth and richness of my own family history; and through it, I sense our connectedness to an even larger, older family — our Christian family through blood and faith. Going home to Immanuel Lutheran always seems to ground me and helps me orient myself and find my place in the larger Christian story.
Even the text I preached on this weekend was a great reminder that the story is far from over. We are still writing it, word by word, act by act. In this weekend’s gospel reading, Jesus sent out the 70, commanding them to preach the good news of God’s kingdom come near, to pass along his peace and to heal the sick. Jesus’s command doesn’t end with the 70 — he tells them, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” We are the laborers. When we go out in love, sharing the good things God has promised to us, we become part of this mission, this story, this history, too.