From the Gospel lesson for Friday in the week of Proper 7B (Pentecost 4, 2015)
35 Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “No, not a thing.”
36 He said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one.”
It has always confused me why Jesus, near the end and close to his anticipated arrest, tells his disciples (the Twelve) to go buy weapons. When the time comes to use the swords, he does not let them. Perhaps the swords are for a later time, after his death, resurrection, and ascension, a time when the church will be persecuted and need protection. Hard to know. However, it’s possible the conversation is simply metaphorical. Perhaps the lesson is not specifically about weapons but more generally about having the tools and equipment one needs for the task one faces. When the disciples were sent out on their missionary journey, they took nothing because there was nothing needed other than their message; now that the message has been rejected (and will be fully spurned when the world tries to kill the Messenger who is the Message) different tools are required. ~ In the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church now happening in Salt Lake City, Utah, the deputies and bishops are debating resolutions, theology, canons, structures, and practices, but I believe they are really talking about tools. What tools are required for the tasks the church faces in the 21st Century. Some of that re-tooling has already begun in the use of electronic technologies (the “Virtual Binder” – a real-time, instantly downloaded version of the old three-ring binders filled with reams of paper – the website on which the rest of the church and the world can follow the deliberations, texting and Tweeting and Facebook and “selfies”; it’s all here and it’s all in use). ~ It’s a generational change, tectonic shift in the ground on which the church moves about. President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings continues to remark that 46% of the deputies are first-timers; another 20% are at their second convention. She underscored this by sending, as the messaging committee to the House of Bishops bearing the information that the House was organized and ready for business, the deputies born after 1990; it was a very large committee, and I was deeply moved watching them gather, receive their commission, and depart the house to do their business. The generational shift was then underscored when the House of Bishops’ committee made its visit to the Deputies and the Bishop of Kansas’ opening words were, “We were born in the 1950s.” ~ A new generation, one that is “native” to the new tools and new ways the church must adopt and use, is taking over. Thanks be to God!