“Serpents and Doves”

WISDOM READINGS:        

Hinduism, Bhagavad Gita

One is disciplined and happy who can prevail over the turmoil that springs from desire and anger, here on earth, before one leaves their body.

Matthew 9:35-10:23

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborer’s into his harvest.’

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborer’s deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town.

‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Message – “Serpents and Doves”

I have never cared for snakes… serpents. I have been known to say, “Every snake is a rattle snake.” I know there are snakes that are beneficial to us, however I just do not like snakes. However, that being said, snakes have gotten a bad rap over the centuries. They used to have a positive image.

The serpent was connected to wisdom, to the feminine of God. The shedding of their skin was connected to new life, a casting off of the old, a symbol of resurrection. I think in Jesus words about being wise as serpents these things are implied. I also believe it is implied we are called to face our fears, to sit with them, if you will, to walk alone for a time, sitting with our self, and reconnecting with the Divine.

In this story we read today there is a sense of call and ministry. I am not just talking about call in terms of clergy, rather the call we all have to the ministry. In this story from Matthew, Jesus gives a sense of urgency to this call… the need is great, yet the workers are few.

Wisdom of the serpent is a call to be renewed in the world. To engage and reconnect with our community and beyond, connect with those we disagree and those who are of like mind. We are called to be patient, identifying injustice, finding our voice, and reconnecting with our voice.

Wisdom of the Serpent…
Letting go of the past…
Knowing our fears…
Knowing our weaknesses…
Knowing our triggers

Knowing our own darkness…and light…
Patience…
Deliberate…
Waiting…
Listening…
Hearing…

Knowing those who would do evil… Pointing to the Way… the WAY Be… Wise as Serpents.

In this story Jesus also calls us to be gentle, innocent as doves. Doves are cooperative. Doves work together. They use nests abandoned by other bird species. Mothers and fathers take turns incubating the eggs. When they grab seeds off the ground, they are not necessarily eating them. Instead, they are stockpiling for digesting later. Gentle – Innocent, Gentle – Peaceful. Doves are generally welcoming of other dove species – Vulnerable… Innocent as doves.

This story of sending the disciples out, Jesus is calling them to be vulnerable, to some degree at the mercy of those around them. “Take nothing with you… proclaim the good news, the kingdom of heaven has come near. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.”

He tells them to rely on the community… rely on others… rely on welcome. And if they will not welcome you… move on, he says… I think of that image of the serpent and the shedding of its skin… Or the metaphor of shedding of that which one no longer needs…

Shed that which burdens you…

Shed that which weighs you down…

Shed those things we carry with us that are not soul feeding, heart nourishing, and that bring us joy and grace.

Shed those things that do not bring us peace within…

I believe that is the wisdom of the serpent… the wisdom of which Jesus speaks regarding letting the dust fall where it may. And in the peace of it… the community arises… navigating the difficulties of life and faith… I think especially in the context of today with the difficulties and struggles of the world in which we live. We can learn from the gentleness and welcoming nature of the dove… vulnerable, sharing, patience, nurturing, and nourishing one another.

Jesus says to his disciples that the journey is going to be difficult and that is why wisdom and innocence is necessary. Listen for the spirit, listen for the wisdom and the gentleness of God to speak in and through us. Tell your story and carry on. Never Give Up.

Think on these things as we continue to journey  in life and faith. Amen.

 

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