Pastor Devin Strong
Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church
Last weekend my wife and I were delighted to receive a call from a longtime friend of our son-in-law, whom we have come to know. He was passing through town and wanted to see us. We have always counted our son and daughter’s friends as family and had told this young man that he was welcome anytime he was passing through.
He calls himself a “traveler,” though there are many less kind terms for his lifestyle. For much of the year he travels around the country, picking up work where he can or earning money as a street musician. He regaled us with stories about how he finds safe places to sleep, dumpster dives for food when money is short, and the farm work he has lined up for later in the fall.
As he spoke, I couldn’t help but to think of Jesus and the disciples. Like our friend, he had a family home to which he could return, but he and his disciples spent the bulk of their time traveling from one destination to another, preaching and, healing.
I thought of the passage from the ninth chapter of the book of Luke: “Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. 5Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ 6They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.” Up until this point the disciples were mostly observers while Jesus did the work, but now Jesus is sending them out alone to do Gospel work and telling them to take nothing with them, except the promise that he is watching over them.
Jesus sent people out with only The Word and the love of God as the supply, support, and safety. In a situation that could have made them feel vulnerable and alone, the disciples discovered the power of God’s Word, as well as God’s love, to change lives.
Listening to The Traveler, I could finally understand on a visceral level the hardship and commitment it took to be a disciple – continually walking from town to town- sometimes through unsafe areas, depending on friends and strangers to offer food and shelter. Being constantly on the move. Dealing with the scorching heat of the desert. It’s a level of commitment I can’t fully comprehend. If the air conditioning at Spirit of Peace went out next Sunday I would feel… let’s say significantly unenthused about leading worship. And I expect that once word got out, our in-person attendance would be pretty light!
Our young friend blessed us with his stories and impressed us with his ability to see the best in humanity, when surely he has also seen the worst. My wife and I both vowed to do a better job seeing the good in all interactions with others, because every person is an opportunity to share the love of Christ. I pray that we all find purpose and joy in being travelers for Christ.